Path To Citizenship Blocked By Corruption
My first article at Tucker Carlson’s new The Daily Caller.
Last month immigration reform, one of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “10 most important legislative priorities,” took another step forward when Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) unveiled the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act of 2009.” Over 85 house Democrats have co-sponsored his bill.
Gutierrez’s proposed legislation includes “earned legalization” for undocumented workers including their spouses and children. A payment of a $500 fine is required and a criminal background check must be passed.
Gutierrez’s bill is not the only one working its way through Congress featuring a path to citizenship. In January 2009, for example, Vermont’s Sen. Patrick Leahy introduced, S. 9, the Stronger Economy, Stronger Borders Act. “I am confident that our country and our economy will be far more secure when those who are currently living in the shadows of our society are recognized and provided the means to become lawful residents, if not a path to citizenship,” he said at the time.
Meanwhile, last October, President Obama’s new director of the United States and Immigration Services, the agency tasked to implement legalizing millions of illegal aliens, should it come to pass, Alejandro Mayorkas said, “We are under way to prepare for that.”
However, a critical component to solve the immigration crisis continues to be ignored — and that is the role the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), arguably played in contributing to the illegal alien crisis in the first place.
The USCIS’ critical mission includes keeping nefarious persons out while granting visas, residency and citizenship to lawful foreigners. This $2.6 billion agency, funded in part by lawful immigrants filing fees and taxpayer funds, is uniquely positioned to protect national security, enhance the economy while preserving America’s tradition as a nation of immigrants.
But America’s immigration system is broken, however, what some lawmakers and amnesty advocates evidentially do not want the public to know is how broken it really is. Over the last two decades, under both Republican and Democratic leadership, America’s immigration agency produced staggering failures including the agency’s inability to efficiently process legal immigrant applications. According to a December 2008, Homeland Security Department intelligence threat assessment, “Long waits for immigration . . . will cause more foreigners to try to enter the U.S. illegally.”
As former Presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, acknowledged during the 2008 campaign, legal immigrants have wallowed in “20-year” backlogs. A private company with that record would be out of business.
Yet, despite previous attempts to rehabilitate the USCIS, the backlog and inefficiency problems persist. In the final days of the Bush Administration, for instance, the USCIS received $500 million over five years to modernize its case management system. This was the agency’s second $500 million cash infusion. According to President Bush’s fiscal 2003 immigration budget, in 2002, the Immigration Naturalization Services (now USCIS) received another five-year, $500-million initiative.”
$500 million dollars later, the Washington Post reported: “Government investigators have reported that the [USCIS’] pre-computer-age paper filing system incurs $100 million a year in archiving, storage, retrieval and shipping costs; has led to the loss or misplacement of more than 100,000 files; and has contributed to backlogs and delays for millions of cases.”
Even worse then the inefficiency, the agency is tarnished by corruption. Bribery indictments, be it for cash, gifts or sex, and embezzlement darken this agency’s history.
Consider these examples:
• In Immigration Labyrinth, Corruption Comes easily—headline, New York Times September 12, 1994. “…the word quickly spread through immigrant communities… Bring cash. Buy the right to live or work in the United States… Smooth-talking middlemen took care of the details, bribing immigration service employees… Every year dozens of INS employees are arrested… the agency has repeatedly failed to shore up security weaknesses, even when corruption arrests have exposed them over and over again.”
• Former Immigration Official Says Fraud, Corruption Rife at Agency, ABC News, April 6, 2006. “[Michael J. Maxwell, former USCIS director of the office of security and investigations] portrayed a dysfunctional agency crippled by corruption both inside and outside that’s trying to handle too many cases with too few employees.”
• Cash, cars, jewelry: Some corruption cases involving immigration officers—headline, Associated Press, September 24, 2006.
• Immigration Official Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Documents—headline Washington Post, December 1, 2006. “A Department of Homeland Security supervisor pleaded guilty… to pocketing more than $600,000 in bribes in exchange for falsifying immigration documents…
• U.S. agents accused of aiding Islamist scheme—headline, Washington Times, August 15, 2007. “A criminal investigations report says several USCIS employees are accused of aiding Islamic extremists with identification fraud and of exploiting the visa system for personal gain…”
• An Agent, A Green Card, and a Demand for Sex—headline, New York Times, March 21, 2008. A USCIS adjudicator was arrested after he was caught on tape, telling a 22-year old Colombian woman, “I want sex,” he said… “You get your green card.”
• Federal Agency Worker & Wife Assisted Aliens in Obtaining Visas and shielding them from Detection – headline, Department of Justice, Northern District of Georgia, May 2008. The indictment… charges both defendants with conspiracy to encourage…aliens to come to the U.S. [illegally] for the Patels’ private financial gain.”
According to former USCIS Acting Deputy Director Michael Aytes, ensuring the integrity of the agency is its highest priority. The “USCIS established the Office of Security and Integrity (OSI) in 2007” to deal with the problem he wrote in a letter directed at me, “We tripled the resources dedicated to this critical mission…” The OSI tripled the resources ostensibly because of the escalating as opposed to the diminishing ongoing corruption at this agency.
It is long overdue that lawmakers acknowledge and remedy the criminal and procedural problems at America’s immigration agency before any path to citizenship falls under its purview.
American’s deserve a competent immigration agency. The people who honorably serve at the USCIS deserve a crime free work environment. Following the law for millions of lawful immigrants should not be an exercise in futility. Maybe when the USCIS is meaningfully reformed and existing laws are enforced, then the illegal alien problem might dissipate.