USCIS’s Cuccinelli Boasts Of Increasing Immigration Bureaucracy

Not something to boast about, normally:

In a new press release, USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli boasted that the Trump administration has increased red tape and bureaucracy for U.S. companies. It’s the latest example of administration officials lauding efforts to make it more difficult for employers to obtain what economists often consider to be a company’s most valuable resource – talent.

Since 2017, Trump administration policies have focused on restricting the entry of immigrants and foreign nationals, including scientists and engineers. “Denial rates for new H-1B petitions have increased significantly, rising from 6% in FY 2015 to 32% in the first quarter of FY 2019,” according to a National Foundation for American Policy analysis.

In addition, expensive and time-consuming Requests for Evidence (RFEs) reached an unprecedented level of 60% in the FY 2019 first quarter. The percentage of completed H-1B cases with a Request for Evidence has doubled between FY 2016 and FY 2019. Many companies have resorted to lawsuits in federal court against USCIS to gain approvals for employees they have identified as valuable.

However, Ken Cuccinelli and USCIS describe the increased bureaucracy facing businesses in positive terms and the fulfillment of a mission. “Consistent with President Trump’s call for enhanced vetting, USCIS plays a key role in safeguarding our nation’s immigration system and making sure that only those who are eligible for a benefit receive it,” according to the October 16, 2019, press release. “USCIS is vigorous in its efforts to detect and deter immigration fraud, using a variety of vetting and screening processes to confirm an applicant’s identity and eligibility. The agency also conducts site visits, interviews applicants, and requests evidence for benefits that offer individuals status in the United States.”

The meaning of the bureaucratic language used by USCIS is clear: USCIS has made it more difficult for employers to gain approval for high-skilled foreign nationals and others.

Here are examples of increased bureaucracy and added burdens on companies hiring foreign-born scientists and engineers:

•          Government documents reveal USCIS adjudicators were directed to restrict approvals of H-1B petitions without the legal or regulatory authority to justify those decisions. The documents became public following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

•          A USCIS internal document – “H-1B RFE Standards” – encouraged adjudicators to demand more information of employers, leading to such requests being made in 40% to 60% of H-1B cases.

•          Another USCIS document changed the standard for what qualifies as a “specialty occupation” for an H-1B visa holder – without any change in the law or regulation. While initially used to deny H-1B status to computer programmers, this analysis explains that the USCIS document states the new USCIS policy is “Applicable to Many Occupations.”

•          USCIS adjudicators have taken the unusual step of approving H-1B status for periods of very short duration. In an ongoing court case, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer cited the plaintiff’s example of USCIS granting one applicant an H-1B approval valid for only a single day – from February 1 to February 2, 2019. (See USCIS decision here.) Such actions force businesses to waste time and money filing repeatedly for the same employees.

•          A Trump administration decision to compel employment-based green card applicants to sit for in-person interviews contributed to “increased delays in the adjudication of employment-based benefits [that] undermined the ability of U.S. companies to hire and retain essential workers,” according to an American Immigration Lawyers Association report. It also caused increased backlogs in other types of applications.

•          USCIS now often requires – without a new law or regulation – a company to list every contract on which an H-1B visa holder will work during a three-year period to prove a “valid employer-employee relationship.” This was not done previously, and companies consider it unduly burdensome and out of touch with how businesses operate in a modern economy. The policy is a source of litigation.

•          USCIS also issued a memo instructing adjudicators to no longer defer to prior determinations when adjudicating extension applications for existing H-1B visa holders. That policy change has contributed to a significant increase in denials and Request for Evidence for continuing employment for H-1B petitions, resulting in a three-fold increase in the denial rate for companies trying to retain current H-1B employees between FY 2016 and FY 2019. Employees who spent years working in the United States have been forced to leave the country after being denied H-1B extensions.

“By increasing the many hoops and hurdles that employers and foreign-born workers must negotiate to work in the United States, USCIS is making it harder for American companies to recruit and retain global talent,” said attorney Vic Goel, managing partner of Goel & Anderson, in an interview. “It is doing this through trumped-up claims of increased workload and fraud referrals, when many of those challenges are the result of its own efforts to create more work for itself and further grow the immigration bureaucracy.”

The available U.S. domestic talent pool is limited in many key fields. Approximately 80% of full-time graduate students at U.S. universities in computer science and electrical engineering are international students who need a visa to work long-term in the United States.

Research by Britta Glennon, an assistant professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, found the types of government restrictions applauded by the acting director of USCIS are not good for America. Glennon found H-1B visa restrictions carry the unintended consequence of pushing jobs outside the United States and lead to less innovation in America. “In short, restrictive H-1B policies could not only be exporting more jobs and businesses to countries like Canada, but they also could be making the U.S.’s innovative capacity fall behind,” concluded Glennon.

When USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli ran for and held public office in Virginia, he had the support of the Tea Party and advocated against overreaching federal bureaucracy, including by filing a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency. As Bob Dylan once sang, “The times, they are a-changin.’”

Source: USCIS’s Cuccinelli Boasts Of Increasing Immigration Bureaucracy

Government surveillance of social media related to immigration more extensive than you realize | TheHill

Of note:

In June 2018, more than 400,000 people protested the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border. The following month saw a host of demonstrations in New York City on issues including racism and xenophobia, the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the National Rifle Association.

Given the ease of connecting online, it is unsurprising that many of these events got an organizing boost on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. A recent spate of articles did bring a surprise, however: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been watching online too. Congress should demand that DHS detail the full extent of social media use and commit to ensuring that the programs are effective, non-discriminatory, and protective of privacy.

Last month, for instance, it was revealed that a Virginia-based intelligence firm used Facebook data to compile details about more than 600 protests against family separation. The firm sent its spreadsheet to the Department of Homeland Security, where the data was disseminated internally and evidently shared with the FBI and national fusion centers; these centers, which facilitate data sharing among federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement, as well as the private sector, have been heavily criticized for violating Americans’ privacy and civil liberties while providing little of value.

In the meantime, Homeland Security Investigations — an arm of ICE createdto combat criminal organizations, not collect information about lawful protests — assembled and shared a spreadsheet of the New York City demonstrations, labeling them with the tag “Anti-Trump Protests.” And as Central American caravans slowly traveled north, DHS’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) drew on Facebook data to create dossiers on lawyers, journalists, and advocates — many of them U.S. citizens — providing services and documenting the situation on the southern border.

As shocking as these revelations are, DHS’s social media ambitions are both broader and opaque. A recent report I co-wrote for the Brennan Center for Justice, based on a review of more than 150 government documents, examines how social media is used by four DHS agencies — ICE, CBP, TSA, and the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) — and describes the deficiencies and risks of these programs.

First, DHS now uses social media in nearly every aspect of its immigration operations. Participants in the Visa Waiver Program, for instance — largely travelers from Western Europe — have been asked since late 2016 to voluntarily provide their social media handles. The Department of State recently won approval to demand the same of all visa applicants, nearly 15 million people per year; this data will be vetted against DHS holdings. While information from social media may not be the sole basis for denial, it could easily be combined with other factors to justify exclusion, a process that is likely to have a disproportionate impact on Muslim travelers and those coming from Latin America.

Travelers may have their social media data examined at the U.S. border as well, via warrantless searches of electronic devices undertaken by CBP and ICE. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of device searches carried out by CBP jumped more than threefold; one report suggests that about 20 percent are conducted on American travelers. (ICE does not reveal its figures.) CBP recently issued more stringent rules, though it remains to be seen how closely it will follow them; a December 2018 inspector general report concluded that the agency had failed to follow its prior procedures.

ICE operates under a decade-old policy allowing its agents to “search, detain, seize, retain, and share” electronic devices and any information on them — including social media — without individualized suspicion. Remarkably, ICE justifies this authority by pointing to centuries-old statutes, equating electronic devices with “merchandise” that customs inspectors were authorized to review under a 1790 Act passed by the First Congress. This approach puts the agency out of step with the Supreme Court, which recently recognized that treating a search of a cell phone as identical to a search of a wallet or purse “is like saying a ride on horseback is materially indistinguishable from a flight to the moon.”

The breadth of DHS’s social media monitoring begs the question: Is it effective? It is notable that a 2016 DHS brief reported that in three of four refugee vetting programs, the social media accounts “did not yield clear, articulable links to national security concerns,” even where a national security concern did exist. And a February 2017 Inspector General audit of seven social media pilot programs concluded that DHS had failed to establish any mechanisms to measure their effectiveness.

Indeed, content on social media can be difficult to decode under the best of circumstances. Natural language processing tools, used for some automated analysis, fail to accurately interpret 20-30 percent of the text they analyze, a gap that is compounded when it comes to unfamiliar languages or cultural contexts. Even human reviewers can fail to understand their own language if it’s filled with slang.

We now know far more about the scope of DHS’s efforts to collect and use social media, but there is much that remains obscured. Without robust, ongoing oversight, neither the public nor lawmakers can be confident that these programs are serving our national interest.

Source: Government surveillance of social media related to immigration more extensive than you realize | TheHill

Canada, U.S. move to redraft border treaty to cut flow of asylum seekers

More movement than I would have thought possible with a possible clever fix of taking seekers to a regular border crossing where they could be deported under the STCA.

Should the USA agree (far from certain), will be interesting to see how it would work in practice (a regular shuttle from Roxham Road until the flow decreases?).

And hanging over all of this is the court challenge to the STCA:

Canada and the United States are a step closer to redrawing the Safe Third Country Agreement covering asylum seekers, as Ottawa looks to stem the flow of refugee claimants crossing between authorized points of entry.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has sent a formal request to the State Department – which handles international treaties – to renegotiate the STCA with Canada, a source in the U.S. administration said. The source was granted anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Ottawa wants the pact changed to close a loophole, which would allow Canada to immediately deport most asylum seekers coming from the United States.

Canadian officials would take such asylum seekers to an official crossing, where they would be denied immediate entry. But that plan would have to clear legal hurdles articulated by the Supreme Court that guarantee a hearing to any refugee claimant setting foot in Canada.

More than 40,000 asylum seekers have entered Canada at unauthorized points of entry since U.S. President Donald Trump launched his crackdown on illegal immigration two years ago. The flood of claimants is bogging down the refugee protection system in Canada.

Under the current pact, most refugee claimants who come to Canada from the United States at official points of entry – such as border stations – are immediately sent back to the United States. But the pact does not apply between such points of entry, so those who cross between border stations have the right to make a refugee claim. Canada wants this changed so most people coming from the United States – at any point along the border – can be immediately deported. The idea behind the treaty is that refugees do not face a risk of persecution in the United States, so it is safe for them to apply for asylum there – no need to continue on to Canada.

The U.S. government source said DHS officials are working with their counterparts at the State Department on the request to start negotiations – formally called a C-175. Under that process, a high-ranking State Department official, usually an assistant secretary, must approve the request. An approval would allow talks to begin, but would not determine the outcome.

The State Department would not comment on the development. “We do not discuss internal and inter-agency deliberations, nor do we discuss specific documents or communications that are involved in such deliberations,” spokesman Noel Clay wrote in an e-mail.

Border Security Minister Bill Blair wrote to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last September to ask her to start talks on changing the border agreement. Mr. Blair’s office said the letter mentioned his mandate from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to manage the surge in asylum seekers at the border.

In a statement this week, Mr. Blair’s spokesman said Canada and the United States have not yet entered into formal negotiations on the STCA.

“However, since his appointment, Minister Blair has met with numerous stakeholders including U.S. members of Congress, Customs and Border Protection and Department of Homeland Security officials to discuss modernizing the STCA as soon as possible,” Ryan Cotter said.

Mr. Blair visited Washington this month to press his case. He met with three Republican legislators active on border-control matters – senators John Cornyn and Ron Johnson, and Representative Mike Rogers – as well as Matthew Reynolds, the U.S. representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s deputy ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Rogers, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, would not discuss Canada’s requested change to the treaty.

“I don’t have a comment right now,” he said outside his Capitol Hill office Wednesday.

One Canadian official, who was granted anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly, said between 60 and 70 per cent of the asylum seekers crossing the border between points of entry appear to have gone to the United States specifically for that purpose: They arrive in the United States on a visitor’s visa, with no intention of seeking asylum there, then immediately head to the border.

Speaking to The Globe and Mail this month, Mr. Blair said Canada is proposing a change to the STCA that would allow Canadian officials to escort asylum seekers who enter at unauthorized entry points to a designated crossing area. There, the border agreement could be applied, allowing Canadian officials to refuse entry to the asylum seekers. The change would apply to the entire border.

Mr. Blair explained how it would work in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., the unauthorized point of entry at the end of Roxham Road in New York State, where most irregular asylum seekers have entered Canada.

“If, for example, there was an agreement of the United States to accept back those people that are crossing at the end of Roxham Road, then Canadian officials who are already there dealing with those people as they come across could theoretically take them back to a regular point of entry … and give effect to those regulations at that place,” Mr. Blair said on March 15.

The legal community is divided over whether the proposal would violate the Supreme Court’s landmark 1985 Singh decision, which found that all refugee claimants on Canadian soil are entitled to an oral hearing.

Errol Mendes, a constitutional law professor at the University of Ottawa, says the Singh decision would apply to asylum claimants who cross into Canada between official points of entry and express fear of persecution.

“The only way you can get around it is if they don’t claim that they’re seeking asylum, but once they do, the Singh case covers it,” Prof. Mendes said. “This is really tricky.”

However, refugee lawyer Lorne Waldman has a different interpretation of how the Singh decision would apply to Mr. Blair’s proposal.

“There doesn’t have to be a hearing … [because it’s assumed] the U.S. is going to give them a fair hearing,” Mr. Waldman said.

He added that while it may be legal to send refugee claimants back to the United States at the moment, a continuing Federal Court challenge may change that. In 2017, the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches launched a legal challenge to change the designation of the United States as a safe country for refugees. The groups argue that the rights of refugees have been stripped under the Trump administration. The Federal Court will take at least another year to issue a decision, Mr. Waldman said.

Craig Damian Smith, an immigration expert at the University of Toronto, said the political calculus for Mr. Trudeau is clear: He wants to shore up Liberal support in Quebec and in the 905 suburbs around Toronto, where anti-refugee sentiment boiled over into protests against asylum seekers arriving from the United States last summer. While tightening the STCA will cause some advocates for refugees to sour on the Prime Minister, there are not enough of them to matter electorally.

Still, the government’s proposed changes to the deal would clash with Canada’s image as a country that welcomes asylum seekers.

“The optics of that – pushing people back across the border, when right now we see friendly RCMP greeting people – what are they going to look like when they start chasing people down? That’s not good,” said Mr. Smith, associate director of the Global Migration Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy.

It’s not clear exactly when Canadian officials first reached out to their U.S. counterparts to discuss reopening talks on the STCA. Mike MacDonald, an associate assistant deputy minister at the Immigration Department, told a parliamentary committee in May, 2018, that Canada had been in talks with the United States for “several months.”

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale met with Ms. Nielsen last year to talk about the matter. Mr. Blair was the first minister to write to Ms. Nielsen last September, shortly after he was appointed the government’s first Minister of Border Security and took over the irregular asylum seekers file from Mr. Hussen.

Source: Canada, U.S. move to redraft border treaty to cut flow of asylum seekers

Census Bureau Seeks Citizenship Data From DHS Ahead of 2020 Census

While I am a great fan of more widespread use of administrative data to improve Census data (e.g., incorporation of immigration and tax data in the Canadian census), hard to see this as innocent data use given the personal identifiers provided rather than anonymous data, not to mention the overall context of the Trump administration’s immigration and citizenship policies:

As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs whether the Trump administration can ask people if they are citizens on the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau is quietly seeking comprehensive information about the legal status of millions of immigrants.

Under a proposed plan, the Department of Homeland Security would provide the Census Bureau with a broad swath of personal data about noncitizens, including their immigration status, The Associated Press has learned. A pending agreement between the agencies has been in the works since at least January, the same month a federal judge in New York blocked the administration from adding the citizenship question to the 10-year survey.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in California also declared that adding the citizenship question to the Census was unconstitutional, saying that the move “threatens the very foundation of our democratic system.”

The data that Homeland Security would share with Census officials would include noncitizens’ full names and addresses, birth dates and places, as well as Social Security numbers and highly sensitive alien registration numbers, according to a document signed by the Census Bureau and obtained by AP.

Such a data dump would be apparently unprecedented and give the Census Bureau a view of immigrants’ citizenship status that is even more precise than what can be gathered in door-to-door canvassing, according to bureau research.

Six former Census and DHS officials said they were not aware that individuals’ citizenship status had ever before been shared with the Census. “Generally, the information kept in a system of records is presumed to be private and can’t be released unless it fits with a certain set of defined exceptions,” said Leon Rodriguez, who led the DHS agency responsible for citizenship under the Obama administration.

The move raises questions as to what the Trump administration seeks to do with the data and concerns among privacy and civil rights activists that it could be misused.

Census spokesman Michael Cook said the agreement was awaiting signatures at DHS, but that Census expected it would be finalized “as soon as possible.”

“The U.S. Census Bureau routinely enters into agreements to receive administrative records from many agencies, including our pending agreement with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to assist us in our mission to provide quality statistics to the American public,” Cook said in a statement. “By law, the Census Bureau does not return any records to the Department of Homeland Security or any of its components, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

Jessica Collins, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, said no agreement has been finalized. She said the purpose of such agreements is help improve the reliability of population estimates for the next Census.

“The information is protected and safeguarded under applicable laws and will not be used for adjudicative or law enforcement purposes,” Collins said.

Civil rights groups accuse the White House of pursuing a citizenship question because it would discourage noncitizens from participating in the Census and lead to less federal money and representation in Congress for states with large immigrant populations. Census researchers say including the question could yield significant underreporting for immigrants and communities of color.

Under the pending three-year information-sharing agreement, the Census Bureau would use the DHS data to better determine who is a citizen and eligible to vote by “linking citizenship information from administrative records to Census microdata.”

“All uses of the data are solely for statistical purposes, which by definition means that uses will not directly affect benefits or enforcement actions for any individual,” according to the 13-page document signed by Census.

Amy O’Hara, who until 2017 directed Census Bureau efforts to expand data-sharing with other agencies, said she was surprised that a plan was in the works for sharing alien numbers with the bureau.

“I wish that we were not on this path,” she said. “If the citizenship question hadn’t been added to the Census, this agreement never would have been sought.”

In previous administrations, government lawyers advised Census researchers to use a minimal amount of identifying data to get their jobs done, said O’Hara, now co-director of Georgetown University’s census research center. During her tenure, the bureau never obtained anything as sensitive as alien numbers, which O’Hara called “more radioactive than fingerprints.” The numbers are assigned to immigrants seeking citizenship or involved in law enforcement action.

Some privacy groups worry the pending agreement is an end-run around the courts.

“What’s going on here is they are trying to circumvent the need for a citizenship question by using data collected by another agency for a different purpose,” Jeramie Scott, an attorney at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “It’s a violation of people’s privacy.”

The agreement would bar the bureau from sharing the data with outside agencies. But confidentiality provisions have been circumvented in the past.

During World War II Congress suspended those protections, and the bureau shared data about Japanese-Americans that was used to help send 120,000 people to internment camps. Most were U.S. citizens. From 2002-2003, the Census Bureau provided DHS with population statistics on Arab-Americans that activists complained was a breach of public trust, even if the sharing was legal.

The quiet manner in which the agencies pursued sharing records could stoke concerns that the Trump administration may be seeking to create a registry of noncitizens, said Kenneth Prewitt, who was Census director from 1998-2001 and is now a Columbia University professor.

Census scholars say that could not happen without new legislation, which is not likely under the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.

In mid-April, the Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether the 2020 Census can include a citizenship question, with a decision expected weeks later.

Next week, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the census, is set to testify before the Senate on his role in the controversy.

About 44 million immigrants live in the United States — nearly 11 million of them illegally. The 10-year headcount is based on the total resident population, both citizens and noncitizens.

The Census figures hugely in how political power and money are distributed in the U.S., and underreporting by noncitizens would have an outsized impact in states with larger immigrant populations. Political clout and federal dollars are both at stake because 10-year survey results are used to distribute electoral college votes and congressional district seats, and allocate more than $880 billion a year for services including roads, schools and Medicare.

The push to get a clearer picture of the number of noncitizens in the U.S. comes from an administration that has implemented hard-line policies to restrict immigration in numerous agencies.

Against advice of career officials at the Census Bureau, Ross decided last year to add the citizenship question to the 10-year headcount, saying that the Justice Department requested the question to improve enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Some prominent GOP lawmakers endorsed the citizenship question, saying it would lead to more accurate data, and a joint fundraising committee for Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee used it as a fundraising tool. Immigrants’ rights groups and multiple Democratic-led states, cities and counties filed suit, arguing that the question sought to discourage the Census participation of minorities.

A citizenship question has not appeared on the once-in-a-decade headcount since 1950, though it has been on the American Community Survey, for which the Census Bureau annually polls 3.5 million households.

Documents and testimony in a New York trial showed that Ross began pressing for a citizenship question soon after he became secretary in 2017, and that he consulted Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, and then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a vocal advocate of tough immigration laws who also has advised the president. Emails showed that Ross himself had invited the Justice Department request to add the citizenship question.

A March 2018 memo to Ross from the Census Bureau’s chief scientist says the DHS data on noncitizens could be used to help create a “comprehensive statistical reference list of current U.S. citizens.” The memo discusses how to create ‘baseline citizenship statistics’ by drawing on administrative records from DHS, the Social Security Administration, State Department and the Internal Revenue Service, in addition to including the citizenship question in the census.

In January, New York federal judge Jesse Furman ruled that Ross was “arbitrary and capricious” in proposing the question.

The new data comes from Citizenship and Immigration Services, a DHS agency that has taken on a larger role in enforcing immigration restrictions under Trump.

After Francis Cissna took over as director in October 2017, the agency initiated a “denaturalization task force” aimed at investigating whether immigrants obtaining their citizenship fraudulently. The agency also has slashed the refugee program to historic lows and proposed reinterpreting immigration law to screen whether legal immigrants are likely to draw on the public welfare system.

Cissna also rewrote the agency’s mission statement: “Securing America’s promise as a nation of immigrants” became “Securing the homeland and honoring our values.”

Source: Census Bureau Seeks Citizenship Data From DHS Ahead of 2020 Census

USA: Why did DHS mistakenly grant 858 immigrants citizenship? – Lawstreet

Analysis of DHS’ mistaken granting of citizenship, identifying the main failure as lack of coordinated, consistent and digitized fingerprinting for identification purposes:

Immigration is consistently ranked as one of the top concerns for American voters every election year. After the failed Gang of Eight immigration reform bill, the attempt at reaching consensus on immigration has fizzled. Both sides of the debate have become more partisan in nature, making it very difficult to strike a deal and get a bill passed through Congress. Donald Trump started off his presidential race with a pitch accusing Mexican immigrants of bringing drugs into the country, whereas Democrats are pointing out that illegal immigration amounts to millions of individuals just overstaying their visas.

No matter the root cause of a broken immigration system, one thing that can always streamline the process of admitting new immigrants is by having a uniform background check system that is archived online for easy access. Currently, ICE checks fingerprints through two systems: the FBI’s Integrated Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and the DHS Automated Biometric Identification System (IDENT). Although an agency may have different reasons for checking a fingerprint file, the archive has to be universal so as to make a search as efficient as possible.

Immigrants make up 13 percent of the total U.S. population as of 2014, according to the Migration Policy Institute, and that percentage only continues to grow. Critics point out that if the issue with immigration is that there are too many people who are here illegally, and that is due to overstayed visas, it may be an administrative issue on the federal government’s end that needs to be resolved. One example is a gap in digitized information that the government needs to archive so that it is easier to catch immigrants that may be of higher concern for the country.

Additionally, calls for border security may be issued in spite of not knowing that our federal government has an administrative issue to resolve. For example, one common misconception is the idea that Mexican immigrants are overflowing our southern border. The Pew Research Center found that since 2014, Mexican immigrants are returning back to Mexico more than actually immigrating to the U.S.

Proponents of immigration point out that immigrants are a huge economic boon for the U. S. as well, and fixing our information gap can be a good way to streamline capturing immigrants with criminal records as opposed to rounding up hard-working families looking to achieve their American Dream. Of the more than 11 million unauthorized immigrants currently in the U.S., ICE has deported almost 178,000. ICE has also issued one million ‘detainer requests’ that ask local officials to detain and then transfer suspects to DHS custody. It is evident that our immigration officials are hard at work identifying individuals who are unauthorized to be in the U.S. and that our border is not as porous as some might believe.


The DHS was audited by its Inspector General, a routine check and balance on a federal agency tasked with enforcing the laws passed by Congress. John Roth, the Inspector General, has done a very good job identifying where DHS is lacking in terms of its ability to enforce our country’s immigration laws. If our executive agencies finish archiving fingerprint and other identification files, and streamline ways to access this information, we might have a shot at fixing our immigration system.

Source: Why did DHS mistakenly grant 858 immigrants citizenship?