Rendering unto the Immigration Caesars
I send greetings to all those observing Public Service Recognition Week 2012. Each day, our country benefits from the efforts of dedicated Federal, state, and local government employees who do their jobs with pride and passion. So many of these men and women work tirelessly on behalf of their fellow citizens to confront the challenges impacting our communities and our Nation. During Public Service Recognition Week, we recognize these committed civil servants and honor their efforts to ensure a brighter future for the next generation.
As a debate on the right and left rages throughout the nation over the proper role of government, it is fitting that NationOfImmigrators take note of Public Service Recognition Week and salute the devoted public servants in the immigration ecosphere who honor their oaths of office and strive to accomplish justice, leavened with compassion.
I do not speak of the dull, ill-trained, uninformed or indifferent, or those in the immigration corps who would dishonor themselves and their branch of government by rendering decisions based on personal motives such as an aversion to hard work, career advancement or the promotion of a political agenda not based on the rule of law but rather on the passions of the mob, the media, the Twittersphere or bullies in Congress. I've ranted about them enough before (here's a potpourri: "Immigration Indifference - The Adjudicator's Curse," "Ignorance of Immigration Reality," "Power-Mad Career Immigration Bureaucrats Cry Wolf, Spook DHS Leaders," "Immigration Governance Unmasked, "I Am Furious (Yellow) -- at USCIS and its AAO," "Has Immigration Fraud Really Gone Viral in the DOL PERM program?," "A Silent Bronx Cheer: Hillary to 'Streamline the Visa Process,'" "Immigration Heart on ICE: Why Does ICE Decide All, and Deny Most, Humanitarian Parole Requests?," and "A Cancer within the Immigration Agency").
Rendering unto these immigration Caesars suggests another meaning of the term, the turning of awful offal into "value-added" products (in this case by shaming them into good behavior or providing them with pink slips or incarceration, depending on the severity of their transgressions).
Instead, I render salutes to those who fulfill year-round the "New Year Resolutions for Immigration Officials":
- I will decide all cases based on the evidence of record after having read the file carefully and applied the immigration laws, regulations and agency policy memorandums in a spirit of fidelity to Congressional intent and just compassion for the people and businesses who will be affected by my decision.
- I will not issue requests for evidence merely as a means of pushing a case off my desk.
- I will decide cases promptly and remember that justice delayed is justice denied.
- I will not judge the case by the size of the company or the nationality of the applicant.
- I will not issue decisions that contradict settled agency policy guidance unless a new law or a novel set of facts justify such action.
- When I am duty bound to deny a case, I will provide a well-reasoned and detailed explanation of the grounds for my decision.
Every day, government officials face perplexing immigration decisions. Many more times than they are given credit, they apply the law justly and within its letter and spirit, using their hearts as well as their heads. Sometimes, they face improper external pressure. Take for example, Alejandro "Ali" Mayorkas, the Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). He has justly won plaudits for enhancing public engagement and transparency.
One day not too far off, I predict, he'll be lauded for finally rolling out -- after years of labored birth by a midwife known as Transformation -- the first release on May 22, 2012 of USCIS ELIS (electronic immigration system) which the agency promises will provide "improved customer service, shorter processing times, and enhanced adjudication tools to combat fraud and safeguard national security." As with version 1.0 of most software, "[r]eleasing the system in multiple phases will give USCIS the ability to continually enhance the user experience for both customers and [its] employees . . . [and] smooth the transition to electronic filing over time and retain a paper filing option for customers."
Meantime, he faces another pressing challenge. It comes in the form of a March 7, 2012 letter from two senior Senators who should know better, Chuck Grassley on the right (a perennial foe of enlightened immigration reform) and Dick Durbin on the left (ironically, a perennial champion of the Dream Act).
Sens. Durbin and Grassley display a rare, though wrong-headed, bipartisanship in that they both view the H-1B (Specialty Occupation Worker) and L-1 (Intracompany Transferee) work-visa categories as vehicles for fraud and discrimination (although a majority in Congress has never agreed in sufficient numbers to enact the duo's oft-reintroduced proposals). More recently, their animosity toward the L-1 has caused them (without regard to actual law) to quote liberally from a wayward 2008 non-precedent Administrative Appeals Office decision that trounced on legislative and rulemaking history to restrict drastically eligibility for "specialized knowledge" L-1B classification.
Based on Mr. Mayorkas' repeated public pronouncements confirming that the L-1B worker need not be a "key employee" and that her knowledge need not be "closely held" among employees of the affiliate abroad, the stakeholder community anticipates that new L-1B guidance from USCIS which he has promised to issue will reaffirm the expansive interpretation of specialized knowledge that existed from 1990 until the 2008. That is the year when the AAO issued its L-1B atrocity, only to be plagiarized in 2011 by a copycat killer -- a State Department cable that turned the L-1B into a dead horse. Although I never bet on the trotters, I wager that a revitalized team of stallions leading the L-1B chariot will soon race into the immigration coliseum a la Ben Hur with Ali Mayorkas at the reins in the role immortalized by Charlton Heston. But, Ali, watch out for the opposition's spiked wheels!