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USCIS - Friend or Foe?

USCIS - Friend or Foe?

In 2003 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) disbanded legacy Immigration & Naturalization Service (legacy INS) and split it up into three separate agencies. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).

CBP, as its name implies, is charged with protecting the nation's borders; ICE executes internal immigration enforcement; and USCIS is here to serve intending immigrants and non-immigrants. Specifically, CBP and ICE are DHS immigration enforcement agencies while USCIS is a DHS service agency.

Today's blog concerns USCIS and the question whether this agency is really a service agency. The preamble of USCIS' mission statement reads as follows:

"USCIS will secure America's promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system." You can find the remainder of the statement at http://www.uscis.gov/aboutus.

As an immigration lawyer I have met many compassionate, extraordinary, and dedicated USCIS officers and I consider it a privilege and honor working with them on a daily basis to secure immigration benefits for my clients. The officers I know exemplify USCIS' service mission to "secure America's promise as a nation of immigrants" and it is for this reason that I am shocked that their Council President Kenneth Palinkas would go on a public xenophobic rant concerning President Obama's proposed immigration executive action. Here's what Mr. Palinkas released on October 28/2014 – you be the judge whether the following is compatible with USCIS' mission statement:

"United States Citizenship and Immigration Service's loyal and dedicated adjudicators and personnel diligently man the front lines in the battle to protect Americans from terrorism and the abuse of our economic and political resources. As the individuals who screen the millions of applications for entry into the U.S., it is our job to ensure that terrorists, diseases, criminals, public charges, and other undesirable groups are kept out of the United States. Unfortunately, we have been blocked in our efforts to accomplish this mission and denied the professional resources, mission support, and authorities we urgently need by the very same government that employs our skill sets. Although we had thought that we had made some headway through newly negotiated policies such as the Quality Workplace Initiative, we find that our caseworkers still operate under a quota system that prioritizes speed over quality, and approvals over investigations. Numbers of mandated interviews that had at one time decreased to afford quality decisions are creeping back up in the government's efforts to process "customers" without regard to national security. There are plans to waive interviews of applicants who seek adjustment of their status in the U.S. to ready our workforce for the coming onslaught of applications unforeseen in previous administrations.We are still the world's rubber-stamp for entry into the United States – regardless of the ramifications of the constant violations to the Immigration and Nationality Act. Whether it's the failure to uphold the public charge laws, the abuse of our asylum procedures, the admission of Islamist radicals, or visas for health risks, the taxpayers are being fleeced and public safety is being endangered on a daily basis.

I write today to warn the general public that this situation is about to get exponentially worse – and more dangerous. America dodged a bullet when the Senate immigration package S. 744 was blocked by the House. That legislation would have been a financial and security catastrophe. But news reports have leaked information to the public of a USCIS management contract bid for a "surge" printing of 34 million green cards and employment authorization documents to be provided to foreign nationals, a bid that predicts the Administration's promised executive AMERICAN FEDERATION OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES COUNCIL 119 | AFFILIATED WITH THE AFL-CIO amnesty. This massive unilateral amnesty is slated to be issued after the November 2014 elections. Efforts by members of the Senate to block this action were stopped in their tracks by 52 Senators who, on July 31st, defeated a legislative maneuver to prohibit the President's actions. That is why this statement is intended for the public: if you care about your immigration security and your neighborhood security, you must act now to ensure that Congress stops this unilateral amnesty. Let your voice be heard and spread the word to your neighbors. We who serve in our nation's immigration agencies are pleading for your help – don't let this happen. Express your concern to your Senators and Congressmen before it is too late."

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