Kenneth Palinkas , the president of the USCIS union, warned Congress not to pursue amnesty or legal immigration increases before correcting widespread problems at the agency. He said that tasking USCIS to review tens of millions of immigration-benefit applications before correcting political corruption within the agency invites disaster.

In a statement released today, Palinkas listed five problems USCIS faces:

  • “USCIS adjudications officers lack the mission support to safely screen and review applicants for immigration benefits. This includes the inability to conduct in-person interviews, the failure of our software system, the lack of training and office space, and pressure to rubber-stamp applications. We have become an approval machine.
  • Failure to protect taxpayers from abuses of the welfare system by those granted immigration benefits.
  • Administrative orders that require us to grant immigration benefits to those who, under law, are not properly eligible.
  • Approval quotas placed on adjudicators that emphasizes clearing applications more than vetting them.
  • A management culture that sees illegal aliens and foreign nationals, not US citizens and taxpayers, as the customer. We believe in treating all with respect and always will, but our agency’s focus must be keeping the country safe and secure on behalf of the American people.”

Palinkas said Congress must fix these problems before expanding USCIS’ responsibilities. “At USCIS, our institutional mission has been corrupted by politics, and I hope these abuses will be examined and fixed before any amnesty proposal is brought forward in the House,” Palinkas said.

The union president's statement criticized the approach the House is taking. It specifically referred to media reports suggesting that House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R -Va.), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) are working toward a conference committee with the Senate. Palinkas said the piecemeal bills in the House could be combined with the “extremely dangerous Senate bill” in conference committee. “These plans are being pursued before first reforming the very agency — USCIS — that will be charged with reviewing these tens of millions of green card, temporary visa and citizenship applications,” Palinkas said. “Advancing such measures without first confronting the widespread abuses at USCIS would be to invite disaster.”

Palinkas also worried about the ramifications of legalizing illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as children. “Legislators, including Cantor and Goodlatte, have suggested that it is improper to apply immigration law to younger illegal aliens,” he said. “But if it is improper to apply immigration law to one specific group of illegal aliens, then why should we expect future illegal aliens in this group to be treated any differently?…Should we just expect that the next Secretary at DHS will use the arguments we are hearing in the House to enact the next Deferred Action program in anticipation of the next legislated amnesty?”

Palinkas told TheBlaze that pressure from the Obama administration to rubber-stamp citizenship applicants and inadequate personnel training has jeopardized national security. Thus far, House panels have ignored his calls to investigate. In 2006, reports surfaced that adjudicators were not checking applications against the terrorist watch list. The House subsequently held hearings but nothing has changed, according to a DHS official interviewed by TheBlaze. “More than six years since the first hearings and nothing is different – not really. How many House hearings in between and it’s business as usual until one of the applicants we’ve allowed into the country successfully launches another terrorist attack inside the U.S.”

Read more here and here.

National Security
immigration reform

Updated: Fri, Oct 11th 2013 @ 9:41am EDT