AILA's Message Center Moderators - The Absence of the Who, When, How, and Why


Kenneth Rinzler

As readers of ILW.Com know, last January AILA the then President of AILA appointed a "Transparency Taskforce", allegedly to make the organization more transparent. I say "allegedly" because, as discussed in an earlier article, AILA never published any information about what the taskforce's mandate or charter was, what procedures it would follow, what its anticipated timeframe for action was, etc.

Be that as it may, the current chairwoman of the taskforce, a former President and General Counsel of AILA, has indicated that it has been charged with devising new rules for AILA's internal Message Center (MC). (In the interest of transparency, readers should note that the author of this article was the first AILA member to be banned from the MC, allegedly for posting the self-proclaimed nickname of AILA's webmistress, as well as being the reason for the formation of the taskforce due to prior exposes about the lack of transparency in AILA.)

No discussion of the MC can occur without knowing the role of the MC moderators.

The MC is divided into 24 general categories, which are then subdivided into a total of 82 individual threads. Eighteen of those 82 threads, or just over one-fifth, have no moderator at all, yet function just fine. When one examines the 64 threads with moderators, however, it becomes painfully clear that the control of the MC rests in the hands of a very select group.

Although AILA has over 12,000 members, a cadre of only eight moderators each has three or more threads under their control; in short, 29 of the 64 moderated threads - almost half - are controlled by eight people out of 12,000. This is a concentration of power that is neither wise nor equitable, especially considering the way some of these people have subjectively exercised this power in the past. To make matters worse, there has been a total lack of transparency as to how these people came to hold such power.

How were these individuals selected? By whom? When? How long are their terms? None of these questions have ever been answered. And to AILA national's inevitable response that the questions have never before been asked, I reply that they are being asked now. As long as there is a "transparency" taskforce - albeit operating behind a cloak of secrecy - perhaps the entire topic of MC moderators should be on the agenda?

Three current moderators have indicated their dissatisfaction with where the revision of the rules might be headed, and have stated that they are considering resigning. That might not be a bad thing.

About The Author

Kenneth Rinzler is an immigration lawyer in Washington, DC, and a frequent visitor to consular posts, having now traveled to 40 countries. A graduate of Georgetown University and Seton Hall University School of Law, he is a member of the District of Columbia, Indiana, New Jersey, and U.S. Supreme Court Bars. In addition to authoring articles for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), he has written on immigration law for the German American Chamber of Commerce. Before specializing in immigration law, he spent nearly ten years working as a legislative assistant and counsel to a U.S. Congressman, and thus has an intimate knowledge of Federal legislative and administrative procedures.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.