The president of the National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council announced his opposition to the Gang of Eight immigration bill (S. 744) on Monday, joining dozens of law-enforcement officers from around the country.
Kenneth Palinkas, who heads the union representing 12,000 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers and staff, slammed the Senate plan, arguing in a statement that it “makes the current system worse, not better,” and “will damage public safety and national security.” He said he was “pleased” to add his name to a letter spearheaded by Chris Crane, president of the union representing U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, which has been signed by more than 40 leading officials in the law-enforcement community and expresses “deep concern” about the Gang’s approach to immigration enforcement.
USCIS employees are responsible for adjudicating of millions of applications per year from immigrations seeking visas, permanent residency, or citizenship. Palinkas offered a blistering assessment of the existing “culture” at USCIS, and said the Gang of Eight’s proposal “fails to address some of the most serious concerns.”
Under the Obama administration, enforcement of the law routinely takes a back seat to other, more political concerns, he said. Illegal aliens are referred to as “customers” under current USCIS policy. The agency has been turned into an “approval machine,” as officers are “pressured to rubber stamp applications instead of conducting diligent case review and investigation.” USCIS has “created an almost insurmountable bureaucracy” that precludes communication with other agencies such as ICE, and officers are often pressured to approve applications for individuals that ICE has determined should be deported.
Palinkas echoed the concerns Crane expressed to National Review Online in April that President Obama’s “deferred action” policy (his DREAM Act policy) is consistently abused, has stymied immigration officers’ efforts to enforce the law, and suggests that any future promises of stricter enforcement are unlikely to be kept:
– Currently, USCIS reports a 99.5% 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.744 becomes law.
In closing, the legislation will provide legal status to millions of visa overstays while failing to provide for necessary in-person interviews. Legal status is also explicitly granted to millions who have committed serious immigration and criminal offenses, while dramatically boosting future immigration without correcting the flaws in our current legal immigration process. We need immigration reform that works. This legislation, sadly, will not.