Rarely do we outsiders hear the voice of government authority utter candid and intensely-felt views, unfiltered by in-house spinmeisters.  Surprisingly, my recent post, "Ignorance of Immigration Reality," evoked just that.  It unleashed a nether-worldly response from the sass-talking spirit of an anonymous immigration official, "Federale."  Apparently, not since Mary Todd Lincoln conducted séances in the White House has a disembodied voice emanated so transcendentally while situated on government property.


Here, then, are Federale's steamy spewings on what he sees as the real dysfunctions of our nation's immigration system (with my numbering inserted in brackets to make for conveniently cross-referenced retorts):



[1] First, a note for readers, District Adjudications Officers, DAOs, no longer exist. Their title has been changed to Immigration Services Officer.


[2] Next, as to the case of the hapless minister, a violation is a violation, and those, for the most part, are the only denials that occur, e.g. technical violations.


[3] Perhaps that is just a lesson to have a good immigration attorney who knows the details.


[4] But in any event, the R [religious worker] visa is one of the most abused in immigration and should be repealed. Of all the nations in the world, the U.S. is the most Christian, and should be able to provide its own ministers. But in reference to the R visa, which is a total and complete fraud, technical violations are the only way an ISO not assigned to the National Security and Fraud Detection section, can deny a petition.


[5] Fortuneately [sic]technical violations are the way most fraudulent petitions are dealt with as well. USCIS takes to heart the Al Capone strategy, if you can't get them for terrorism or fraud, get then on a lesser offense. And that has saved the U.S. many a time when an Al Queda sleeper or sympathizer has tried to file a petition.


[6] But I noticed that Paparelli did not address the facts of my post, which is hard quotas that ISOs and CAOs have. Even Asylum Officers have a hard quota of 9 cases a week, and this based on four day interviewing week with Friday being an administrative work day. There is a built in bias for approvals. Note also that ISOs don't even have fraud referrals mentioned on their Performance Plan, e.g. evaluation.


[1] Federale, you caught me in a mistake; I confess. District Adjudications Officers (DAOs) are now known as Immigration Services Officers (ISOs). Though I challenge you to explain how the term "Services" can be accurately applied to the lawless shenanigans you attribute in your comment to the ISOs. 


[2] Yes, "a violation is a violation," except when its committed by the CAOs, ISOs and their superiors who flout Congressional will.  You folks do this by (a) creating new law out of unchanged legislative text, and (b) devising extreme, sophistic interpretations that support your personal policy judgments to deny immigration benefits to people and businesses who in earlier decades, on identical facts, would have been approved. In short, the government should also play by the immigration rules.


[3] At last, we agree on something.  As your colleague, INS Spokeswoman Karen Kraushaar, accurately observed:  "Immigration law is a mystery and a mastery of obfuscation, and the lawyers who can figure it out are worth their weight in gold." --  (quoted in The Washington Post, April 24, 2001, in an article entitled "Md. [Maryland] Family Ensnared in Immigration Maze - After Changes in Law, Couple Faces Deportation").


[4] To be sure, visa abuse is wrong and should be punished; it cheats the law-abiding who play by the rules and generates a debilitating disrespect for the rule of law.  You apparently forget, however, that the First Amendment to the Constitution protects freedom of religion, requires separation of church and state, and prohibits the establishment of religion.  It also creates Legislative and Executive Branches of government which together have produced legislation, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which puts the burden on the government to demonstrate a compelling governmental interest in denying a religious worker an immigration benefit, and to show that the denial is the least burdensome way to enforce the government's immigration policies.


Your defense of the abusive practice of denying cases on so-called "technical violations" can never be reconciled with these constitutional provisions and the RFRA.  Moreover, your spirited reply conveniently ignored the fact noted in my post that poor Pastor Neufeld lost the companionship of his wife and kids, even though your agency concluded that his case for religious-worker designation was legitimate and granted him his green card.  How, then, did the denial of his family's green cards fight religious-worker visa fraud?


[5] I might be inclined to give you some leeway in applying the Al Capone "no-spitting-on-the-sidewalk" mode of enforcement if you could support your claim with specific examples in which a CAO or ISO has "saved the U.S. many a time when an Al Queda sleeper or sympathizer has tried to file a petition." As the saying goes, "I'm from Missouri. Show me."  Frankly, I think you're blowing smoke.


[6] Yes, I didn't address your gripe about "hard [adjudication] quotas".  (Since you've repeated it so often, I'm beginning to wonder if you're a union rep for the local CAO or ISO bargaining unit.)  In any case, I don't like immigration quotas, whether they're imposed on border patrol officers or used to delay deserving foreign citizens in gaining the chance to contribute to the betterment of our country.  Unrealistic adjudication quotas are wrong.  Officers need adequate time to decide cases.  Their job, as I've noted, is not easy.  The challenge for the agency, however, is more than internal production quotas; rather it's an outdated business model.  If there's "a built in bias for approvals," stakeholders are not seeing it.


* * *


So, Federale, it's time for you to come out of your sarcophagus.  If you are truly so exercised about the immigration dysfunctions you see, then exorcize yourself.  Let's sit face to face at a meeting with the USCIS Ombudsman and the new USCIS Director (a seemingly earnest and honorable gentleman), and thrash out our differences for the sake of a better immigration system.  I'm waiting for the invitation to put this meeting on my calendar.