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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Listen and Ignore

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The White House and USCIS deserve credit for launching a number of initiatives to get feedback from the public on immigration. The White House has held a number of gatherings on immigration and in recent months has been holding listening sessions around the country. USCIS has been holding regular stakeholders meetings allowing people to let the agency know what they like and don't like about immigration processing. And just today, USCIS announced that it is soliciting amicus curiae briefs to get feedback on cases being handled by the Administrative Appeals Office.

But is any of all this feedback being acted on? Regretably, there is little evidence that the expressed concerns are being addressed. A few months back, The White House issued an executive order requiring each government agency to get feedback from the public on ways to act more efficiently and effectively. Only a few weeks were offered to submit ideas - something that skeptics of the effort pointed to as proof that this initiative was largely for show. Not surprisingly, many were received regarding immigration processing. But we've heard almost nothing since the exercise to indicate which ideas are being adapted and why others are being rejected.

Yesterday, the National Foundation for American Policy released its own document enumerating various excellent administrative fixes that could be enacted (including several applying to the Department of State). The ideas come from a variety of sources including US Chamber of Commerce, ImmigrationWorksUSA, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and even my J-1 Visa Guidebook co-author Steve Yale-Loehr. Some of my favorites ideas are

- sharply cutting requests for evidence

- stop wasting taxpayer funds by holding redundant audits and instead used focused enforcement

- add STEM workers graduating with advanced degrees from US institutions to the Department of Labor's Schedule A thus avoiding much of the green card labor certification process.

- Simplify the H-2A and H-2B visa processes to make it easier for employers to comply with the requirements to legally hire guest worker; changes include expanding the program to include dairy farmers, 

- Start a trusted employer program to allow employers with a track record for complying with immigration law to avoid redundant submissions to prove their ability to comply with the rules of the various visa programs.

- create a system for supervisory review of denials of visa applications at US consulates

- allow the use of online advertising rather than print advertising to satisfy Department of Labor labor certification requirements

- add E-3 visas to the premium processing list

- allow for 240 days of continued work authorization for those who timely file for extensions of their employment authorization documents

- allow individuals with TN, O and E visas with pending adjustment of status applications to re-enter on their visas rather than having to use an advance parole document (just like H and L visa holders currently can)

- resume DOS visa revalidation in the US

- allow adjustment of status applications to be filed even if a visa number is not available

- require federal agencies to release immigration paperwork to the beneficiary and not just the sponsoring employer

All great ideas, but how many will actually happen? And for those that are ignored, will USCIS and DOS provide a non-weasley answer for why not? I'm not optimistic, but would love to be proven wrong.

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