USCIS Director Testifies before Congress on USCIS Oversight
Yesterday, Leon Rodriguez, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), went before Congress to testify on the agency’s primary goals, as well as the work USCIS has done – and is planning to do – in order to realize these goals.
Affirming USCIS’ commitment to excellence, Director Rodriquez explained to Congress in his opening statement that:
Our Agency embodies our core principles of transparency, integrity, consistency and efficiency; this ensures we are effective stewards of the resources we manage. I will continue to ensure that USCIS delivers the appropriate benefits to the right people while ensuring that benefits are denied to those who are ineligible. I also assure you that USCIS will continue to do its work efficiently and ensuring the highest level of security.
Main Points of the Testimony
Among the primary issues that Director Rodriguez testified on yesterday included (but were not exclusive to):
- The Executive Action on Immigration – In an effort to support the President’s Executive Actions on Immigration issued last November (i.e., those that are not currently the focus of a federal lawsuit), Rodriguez explained that USCIS is working on developing a final rule for provisional waivers (clarifying eligibility requirements); is updating its guidelines regarding “extreme hardship”; and is working on enhancing various employment-based programs.
- Management of the Refugee Admissions Program – In terms of working to protect vulnerable refugees while maintaining the integrity of USCIS, Rodriguez explained that USCIS is working closely with the State Department to “support a larger refugee admissions program” in 2016 while carefully monitoring “the security situation.” This currently involves “rigorous background checks” and interviews for every refugee applicant.
- Improving Customer Service & Transitioning to Modern Systems – As part of this goal, USCIS is focused on improving public engagement and “moving our workload to an electronic environment,” Rodriquez explained. While the work towards this goal has included developing new online tools and help centers, one of the Agency’s goals for the end of 2016 is to have about 30 percent of the Agency’s caseload transitioned to the new electronic system.
- Ongoing Focus on Detecting & Prosecuting Fraud – As Rodriguez explained about this goal, “USCIS remains committed to ensuring that immigration benefits are not granted to individuals who pose a threat to national security or public safety, or who seek to defraud the U.S. immigration system. To this end, USCIS has developed a number of “fraud detection enhancements,” including new task forces, new training programs, and new investigative requirements to better identify the perpetrators of immigration fraud.
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