Earlier this week, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Leon Rodriguez, went before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to testify on the USCIS’s role in the “Syrian Humanitarian Crisis.”

As Rodriguez explained in his opening statement to legislators, his testimony focused on discussing:

The screening measures and safeguards that have been developed by the USRAP

[U.S. Refugee Admissions Program] and enhanced over time. While many of these enhancements were first deployed in connection with the Iraqi refugee resettlement program, they are now being applied more broadly to applicants of all nationalities, including Syrians who now represent a growing portion of our caseload.

Testimony Centers on Refugee Case Processing, Security Checks

Here is an overview of the recent congressional testimony regarding USCIS’ oversight of the refugee program, a Los Angeles immigration lawyer explains.

Here is an overview of the recent congressional testimony regarding USCIS’ oversight of the refugee program, a Los Angeles immigration lawyer explains.

Contextualizing USCIS’s role in the process and responsibility of granting refugees access to the U.S., Rodriguez explained that USCIS oversees the interview process with applicants to evaluate whether they are eligible for refugee status. While this includes determining if applicants meet the definition of “refugee,” it also involves assessing whether they meet all other requirements for admission to the U.S., based on current U.S. laws.

To facilitate this processing, USCIS has developed a “cadre of specially-trained USCIS officers who are dedicated to adjudicating applications for refugee status overseas,” Rodriguez testified. This cadre, which has been in place for about a decade, has:

  • Worked in more than 60 countries in 2015 alone
  • Received specialized training on “refugee law, grounds of inadmissibility, fraud detection and prevention, security protocols, interviewing techniques, credibility analysis, and country conditions.”

In terms of security checks, Rodriguez explained that, since the third quarter of 2008, the agency has been requiring:

A third biographic check with the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which we now refer to as Interagency Checks or “IAC’s.” Initially the IAC was required only for Iraqi applicants, but the IAC is now required for all refugee applicants within a designated age range, regardless of nationality.

This enhanced screening is backed up by USCIS’s biometric checks “that are applied to refugees regardless of nationality” and that screen applicants “against three sets of data.”

In closing, Rodriguez noted that:

USCIS is prepared to work closely with the State Department and other interagency partners to support a larger refugee admissions program of 85,000 arrivals in FY 2016, including at least 10,000 Syrian refugees, while assiduously maintaining the integrity of the program and our national security.

Tell us what you think about Rodriguez’ testimony and/or USCIS’ oversight of its refugee program, as well as its plans for 2016, on Facebook & Google+. To review the testimony in its entirety, click here.

Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.

Do you need help obtaining refugee status in the U.S. – or resolving any immigration issues? If so, you can turn to a Los Angeles immigration lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.

To learn more about our citizenship, immigration and deportation defense services contact us today by calling (626) 765-4641 or (866) 489-7612 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the screen. From our office in Pasadena, we serve clients throughout the Los Angeles area, across the state of California and from around the world.