On July 27, 2006 I testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic:
“At USCIS- Speed Kills”
Michael W. Cutler, Senior Special Agent, INS (Ret.)
Senior Fellow, Californians for Population Stabilization
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is one of the component agencies under the aegis of the DHS, an agency that has proven itself to be so inept and devoid of integrity and vital resources that I have come to refer to it as the Department of Homeland Surrender.
USCIS is charged with adjudicating applications for a wide variety of immigration benefits such as permitting foreign students to change schools, providing aliens with lawful status and Green Cards and conferring United States citizenship upon aliens through the naturalization process. USCIS is also charged with administering the administration’s pet project known as DACA (Deferred Action- Childhood Arrivals) which has, thus far, adjudicated hundreds of thousands of applications without in-person interviews and an approval rate well in excess of 90%.
It is estimated that each year USCIS processes more than 6 million applications for immigration benefits including more than 600,000 applications for naturalization. The pressure to keep up with the massive influx of applications means that the priority for the beleaguered adjudications officers is to approve applications as often as possible. It is important to understand that it takes just minutes to approve an application but hours or days to deny one. It is important to know that there is an inverse relationship between speed and accuracy. Think of the episode of “Lucy at the Bonbon Factory,” except, instead of wrapping candy the adjudicators at USCIS are adjudicating immigration applications that, as the 9/11 Commission reported, have a clear nexus to national security.
Furthermore, there are scant resources available for field investigations to be conducted to seek to uncover fraud. As more aliens succeed in gaming the process and get away with fraud more aliens become encouraged to file applications based on fraud knowing that the likelihood of their crimes being discovered and acted upon are nearly zero.
In point of fact, on April 13, 2013 ICE posted a news release: New York City lawyer sentenced to 5 years in prison for operating substantial immigration fraud scheme.
Here is a quote from that release:
Earl Seth David, 45, ran a scheme in which he and his co-conspirators applied for legal status for tens of thousands of illegal aliens based on phony claims that they had been sponsored for employment by U.S. employers.
David was indicted October 2011, and extradited to the United States from Canada in January 2012. He pleaded guilty in April 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.
It is mind-boggling that after all of the potential counts to his indictment, David was permitted to plead guilty to just one count each of immigration fraud and mail fraud when it is believed that he committed thousands of separate crimes.
This next quote is no less mind-boggling:
David continued to operate the scheme even after he was suspended from the practice of law in New York State in March 2004.
He fled to Canada in 2006 after learning that his firm was under federal criminal investigation. However, illicit profits from the scheme continued to be funneled to him in Canada…”
How in the world did USCIS continue to accept and process applications from the offices of an attorney whose license had been suspended and who was operating outside the United States?
Additionally, there was no mention of any efforts to identify, locate or arrest any of the estimated more than 25,000 aliens who successfully gamed the immigration system. The 12 individuals who have been thus far named did not include any of the tens of thousands of aliens who benefited from their crimes.
On Friday evenings I host a BlogTalk radio program, “The Michael Cutler Hour” and often invite guests to discuss important issues. On July 27, 2012 my guest was Jerry Casale, a former colleague at the INS who recently retired from USCIS as an Adjudications Officer at Headquarters. Our discussion focused on the plight of the the adjudicators who were expected to keep up with the backlog of applications.
The topic generated so much interest that I invited Jerry back for a follow-up interview on April 5, 2013.
It is clear that management at USCIS pushes speed over accuracy and consequently political expedience over national security.
This is the same agency that would administer Comprehensive Immigration Reform.