Amnesty Opposition Grows

Union representing immigration officials opposes immigration reform

May 20, 2013

The union representing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials will officially oppose the proposed Senate immigration reform legislation on Monday, according to an advance statement obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The National Citizenship and Immigration Services Council (USCIS Council) says the legislation fails to address its top concerns about the current system, including the pressure on USCIS officers to approve visa applications without thorough review and the bureaucratic barricades that prevent them from coordinating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials.

Sources say it is highly unusual for the USCIS Council to weigh in publicly on legislation.

The USCIS Council, whose members would play a key role in implementing the proposed immigration law, will be the second of three government immigration services union to oppose the so-called Gang of Eight’s immigration bill. The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Council, which represents ICE officials, has also been a vocal critic of the legislation.

The USCIS is in charge of processing residency and visa applications, and would be responsible for handling the millions of legalization applications that would come before the agency should the Gang of Eight legislation become law.

"Like the ICE Council, the USCIS Council was not consulted in the crafting of the Gang of Eight’s legislation," wrote USCIS Council president Kenneth Palinkas in a statement. "Instead, the legislation was written with special interests—producing a bill that makes the current system worse, not better. S. 744 will damage public safety and national security and should be opposed by lawmakers."

"The legislation will provide legal status to millions of visa overstays while failing to provide for necessary in-person interviews," said Palinkas "We need immigration reform that works. This legislation, sadly, will not."

The USCIS Council said it would add its name to a May 14 letter to Congress organized by the ICE Council.

The letter, which has been signed by 44 law enforcement officials and sheriffs associations across the country, argues that the proposal "fails to meet the needs of the law enforcement community and would, in fact, be a significant barrier to the creation of a safe and lawful system of immigration."

Republican supporters of the bill say it will help strengthen the current immigration enforcement process. One GOP congressional aide said the growing opposition from immigration enforcement unions undercuts that argument.

"This just furthers my impression that the Democrats wrote the bill and the Republicans wrote the talking points," said the aide.

The Senate Judiciary Committee markup of the legislation will continue on Monday, and is expected to wrap up later this week.