Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman Sixth Annual Conference

Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman Sixth Annual Conference


[Captioner is on hold, waiting
for event to begin.]>>We will be starting in just a
few moments, can everyone take their seats please.
>> Good morning I have the honor
of welcoming you to the six annual conference of the sea I
guess Ombudsman Conference, this is a unique experience where government stakeholders
share concerns and work together to find solutions.
>>We have a prestigious lineup for you today including the US
EIS director Leon Rodriguez, [Indiscernible], that ERI
director [Indiscernible] Nothing would be possible
without Maria Odom. >>Just a few house keeping
matters. The phone starts with PEH, a
lot of them — Ph, A lot of them need to be muted.
>>If you would like to get some materials, there is no
food allowed in here. We will get fined if you transgressed.
>>Last but not least. Feedback. We have a feedback form in your
folder, there are two, for the morning the white one, the
afternoon the pink one. Week — We appreciate your feedback, please take the time to fill
this out and pass it to be Escher or any staff members we
are wearing badges, or leave it at the table in the front,
whenever you get a chance to fill it out, please fill out
your feedback form. >>That is all I have.
>>This is Maria the final conference with the
CICS Ombudsman Office, which our
office has grown under her leadership.
>> She is an inspiration to all.
>>I am proud to introduce the CIS Ombudsman Maria Altman —
Open — Maria Oldman — Stacey R during
— >>Stacey our acting director.
>>Good morning welcome to the 671 — Six annual conference, my
name is Maria and I have had the honor of serving for the
fast for years, every day we ye — We look at the conference and we share this with you all,
this is so special for me. I would like to thank David Fierro, who I know will be at
another successful conference. If you special guests regional representatives, [Indiscernible] will be here
shortly he is right here Leon is here with us welcome Leon,
our colleague from the department of justice, I would like to welcome all of
you to take the time to be here I would like to welcome our
colleagues throughout the day as well, you will need to [Indiscernible], I look
forward to the conversations that will be taking place. I
would like to extend a special welcome from our colleagues from
US EIS, those who will participate — US CIS.
>>Those who will be participating, and also to
answer these questions with transparency, I know some of you
who are joining via webcast, thank you for being with us
today. >>I think it is very important
to know, working with this relationship, US EIS, it is
strong — CIS it is strong. Thank you for your
attention as we visit your place across
the country you have been a gracious host.
>>Every day US EIS — US CIS , holding their hands of foreign
workers, and US employees, refugees, families, seasonal and
cultural workers, current and future members of our military
and others. In the process we work to protect the
integrity of our system and provide good customer service.
It is a monumental responsibility it is one that
they often take on policy goals and often
regulatory requirements with all of the anxiety I have great
confidence of the men and women of US CIS, you will continue to
administer our immigration laws with transparency, we know many
of you, and many individuals in this room share the belief,
when we bring people out of the shallows, — Shadows and allow
them to work legally, our communities are safer and
stronger, our country thrives. We know you will share your expertise, you will advocate
for the policies and regulations that you have developed with
hardware, in the integration system, that opens stores, in
the system of the best of the best around the world. You will
stand for system that keeps families together, for sensible
legal processes. You will stand for a system for the hope and the worlds
most vulnerable. We thank you for being a great
partner to this administration. Over the years we have delivered
annual reports to the Congress, I commend my great team for the
great work they do to provide a comprehensive summary, the
policy challenges we have seen over the years. And also what is
proposed to CIS, and how the agency is working towards them.
>>My remarks remain to be resolved, for the new year CIS
director, about the system and the
immigration policies, and I will step outside, in meeting with
the administration, and the Congress, normally immigration
requires both. Agency and the administration, people need to
come to the system legally, it is broken in many ways, those
who care, really see this opportunity to fix it. It is
imperative for us not to write off the reform and not be driven by
the restrictions and agenda, the other document these were
successful paths in the US for contributing to the economy and
the culture in leaving — Living with the economy. Also we
deserve reliable pathways to migrate to the US, to bring
their employees. >>And advanced should attract
the most talented and skilled around the world. It should
thrive here and internationally.
>>Congress should invest in our service agency, creating a
21st-century all agency shouldn’t be solely on the back
of immigrants and employees that pay [Indiscernible] to the agency.
>>If it deems it necessary to secure and that vetting,
employment dash — I encourage Congress to support
those individuals who have rares and needed skills and
ready to join, this should be national consensus to support
military naturalization. Congress and the administration
should pay attention to the issues that often do not make
the news. They should know about and be partners to address these times, inconsistent
quality, and adjudication, and the challenges of this office,
issued focus on US CIS full implementation as well. This
should be in concern for these issues they do not belong to one
party over another. Fixing them enhances efficiency. And also
national security. It ensures the immigration system is a
shared gold — Goals of a modern agency. Administration and
Congress should listen to the careers in public service to
work on the system that is where the on an American price. They
work to deliver and protect those who are fleeing
persecution the new administration I would like to
work as a division to develop practical strategies to show the
world we can lead in keeping our relation — Nation safe,
while not turning a blind eye. It has been a tremendous honor
to serve in this role. I would like to say thank you to the dedicated
staff please stand up you are amazing,
[Applause] . >>You are some of the hardest
working people I know, you often work behind the scenes, I like to say you answer your
phones and emails, and you really insist in being a
resource for the public, those who are not experiencing this
added this comment has been an honor to work with you. I would
like to thank Peggy Gleason this year, this conference would not
happen without your leadership, those who work with Peggy, I
want to think, Heather, thank you Heather, [Indiscernible]
here in the room . Sue and Adrian also participated in the planning of this conference,
thank you for the moderators in the conference support staff. I
would like to think the Ombudsman senior team, our
acting director, Melissa McGovern, chief the policy, Allison
[pause], who is the notetaker, I’m not sure if Gary is in the
room who also served as the acting director, and will be
participating later on, who will be our oncoming Ombudsman
thank you for helping, I could not do this
without you. You drive the ship into a well.
>>[Applause] >>Finally I would like to think
of all you stakeholders, thank you you give us feedback, you
are very knowledgeable and you are not afraid of telling us
what is working, and how to improve our integration system .
>>I know you are not shy and I look forward to the
participation in the conference later on today. Welcome to the
conference everyone. >>
[Applause] >>I would have the honor of
introducing our morning speakers, our colleague Leon
Rodriguez who has been here since 2014, he came to our
department within impregnable background, at the Department of
Health and human services, at the department of justice he has
had an impressive career, he is passionate and a son of
refugees himself, to meet the division, the one
that I know he shares, please welcome the director of CIS.
>>[Applause]
>>Good morning thank you Maria for the kind introduction. I was
here because we come frequently here from US CIS we have used
the facilities here comment for naturalization in the past years a number of
times. One summary about a year ago, just before the ceremony. I
had to take my son to an early morning dental appointment, from
my perspective, naturalization ceremony there would be a number
of citizens as I am sitting at my son’s dental
appointment, and I forgot to things, my doubts and the
special guest would be none other than Barack Obama. So I
tried to text my wife it was not a comfortable place
to text thinking she would understand it was not on me, we
meet to hand off my son, of course marriage is all about
communication, I did not communicate effectively I met
the president without about fortunately I gained a little bit of weight
in this job and it was not an issue it was a wonderful
ceremony. I told you that story because it was funny and I
wanted to share, also points to key points everyone in this entire system.
With fellow global — Aspiring to do the best you can. The
other thing while that day , the naturalization ceremony
for me, me had been another day at work, for the president, for
the new citizens in that ceremony, that well may have
been the very most important day. I compared these two weddings,
and I often think new citizens think about it often that way.
This is like Maria, my last Ombudsman conference at least as
US CIS director, it is an important moment to thank Maria
and her entire team for the incredible work that they have
done. It is useful to reflect in this time of transition, the
office of the Ombudsman, and the customers of US CIS, internal
office, both were created through
bipartisan consensus through Homeland security when it was created, through
this time of transition, where many of us worry about the future and what
it would be like, it would be important to remember there is a
common bipartisan consensus that we should be fair and
encourage citizen set — Citizenship.
>>Treat them with decency those who seek immigration. I agree
with Maria, the relationship with US CIS and the Ombudsman has
been a constructive one, you have attendance to, like an
agency like Ombudsman or an oversight agency, to assume I
know what I’m doing. Trust us. We will get the job done right,
I will tell you I did not look at it that way. The Ombudsman
has an incredible role to play as you do as our stakeholders,
to make sure that we have the expert import — Expert input.
>> To that, the Ombudsman has made
a number of construct to office, I would like to highlight some
of them this morning, to begin. The Ombudsman recommended
centralizing special juvenile locations, and a co-op location
related to humanitarian benefits, final FI J regulations
that incorporate all statutory amendments, we have begun the
process of [Indiscernible] S IJ process and applications will
be adjudicated at one location to allow greater consistency in
the program and closer monitoring cases and times, we also
appreciate the CIS Ombudsman support of the Ombudsman
program, I would like to stop here. In constructing the
central miners program, we broke new ground in a number of ways,
we did for us relatively unusual in that we process
refugee applications, where they were seeking applications.
This is not unheard of, we are doing this in Iraq as
well. We formulae stay process for those who did not qualify,
as refugees, to in certain circumstances where there was
great threat to their life and safety. To afford them
humanitarian parole in that case. A public interest parole
in those cases. The importance of this program in thinking
broadly, in humanitarian relief was
underscored to me, I was at a shelter for migrants coming to
America. I met a cover — A couple. Who turned out to
be a decade-old — Older than me I thought, who
ended up being a decade younger than me. The reason they chose
to leave, their daughter they had been told unless their
daughter would enter into a local drug trafficker, — They would kill the whole
family — They were to leave the country, and start
circumstances to migrate north. >>In this number of important recommendations, to permit
access to counsel during interviews, we are working now
on a number of you have been involved in these efforts, to
stand a pilot to allow up turnings — Attorneys for the
children. They have asked us to coordinate with the Department
of State, for this volume. We have done this, and to recognize children with cease parents as
qualifying children, to create a plane language guidance, we are
working to implement those in July 2016, the department no
standing coordination is a part of US CIS, announced the program to
include new categories of applicants that work in the area
and are familiar with the expansion, reviewing other
recommendations, and should have a formal response back to the
Ombudsman shortly. This is also among examples of
recommendations that we have received from Ombudsman we have
embraced, I look forward in continuing to play and in the
future playing a robust role. I want to talk about the program.
Something that we have looked at extensively. It is frequently
the case that we talk about the refugee program in terms of a
fulfillment of humanitarian values. It is that, I have said and continue to say
the refugee program is a vital instrument of foreign policy the
natural reflex will be to give restriction, fundamentally
that point of view is mistaken. think is a profound piece of
evidence of that process .
>>As of this summer’s 700,000 refugee children in Turkey, Jordan,
Lebanon, other countries, we are not going to score, the large
majority had no immediate prospect of going to school.
That in certainty that there families face, where they would
settle where they would be employed, it is folly to think,
unaddressed by the natural community in and of itself,
would create fundamental threats to global security, those are
populations that would become phone herbal to human
trafficking, human criminalization, and if nothing
else to object poverty that will become a
burden on those closed countries. I have and will
continue to urge that we continue to maintain a robust
program. I am proud of what USCIS has accomplished this
past year, coming from five people of the president’s goal
of 85,000, we will continue to work until we are stopped until
this goal of the fiscal year 2017, I am proud of the work we are doing to feel the
executive actions, the issuance of the hardship guidance, those
of you who work in that area are familiar, a number of steps
that we have taken and a number of steps we will work to take, to promote a
high skilled immigration, the settlement of this high settled
workers in the United States so that we can utilize their skills
to improve our economy and the future of our American people. I
want to talk about a couple of minutes of transformation. Which
I know for you is an area of interest, and concern .
>>Like Maria I share and believe now, when the Michael’s
in believing, Alice in fact would become a comprehensive
system. To be utilized by USCIS, not just for
adjudication, but as a tool to fully effectively manage our
agency. As a partner in our overall transformation of the
agency. This year we have deployed functionality. We deployed the year before I
90, in this the visa, there will be challenges in the future,
that is inherent to any deployment technology system, I
can say, as I watched the last weeks. In particular, the agency
getting its fillers on how it utilizes for the functionality I
do believe, I leave my tenure confident, and in fact Alice
will accomplish it transformation, and its
fundamental goal of fundamental better adjudicating environment
for the applicants and the applicant’s submitting these applications.
>>We were close to 1 million receipts, we
processed 85% of what we taken. In that year, we were
processing at much higher levels than we
had before. The challenge I throw out to the new
administration, as able, to continue to believe that we are
in as a society when those who live among Gus are full
participants, I will participate , continue to advocate.
>>I want to wrap up with discussion on future
administration. I think it is not a secret, there are many
things that the new president believes. In which I disagree. What I urge this community to
do, in the future, first of all, to continue to advocate as
vigorously and knowledgeably as you have with us and with this
administration, also to believe what they say. So there are particular things
that they said they would do, changes they said they would
make, we will see if they make those changes, and it is their
prerogative to do, there are many things they didn’t say, for
example, they didn’t say to do away with the rest of the
system. Curtailing the legal system, it will be
important to advocate the basic belief shared by all Americans,
that we are in fact enriched by our communities, culturally,
economically, spiritually, by having immigrants not just high skilled immigrants from
particular countries, but from all walks of life all faiths,
all nationalities, all skills and categories, who energizes
country. I believe the vast majority of Americans
believe that, we are entitled to an immigration system and
policy going forward Turkel that honors that fundamental relief
of all Americans. >>I look forward in advocating
for that point of view. Thank you.
[Applause] >> Thank you Leon you have been
steadfast in improving our immigration system. And
legislative action. I do believe the initiative
plan, implemented, now, and over the next year, will make a
difference. In the lives of USCIS customers, and try to strengthen the
system until that time when we have comprehensive immigration
reform. We can look at immigration in a vacuum through
the lens of our jurisdiction. Immigration services without
also understanding how our immigration system and
priorities interact with other entities. We invited Mr. Pittman here today, he is a regional
representative for the United States, and the Caribbean for
refugees, he has been with the United nation serving both at
the field level at Africa, and in the Middle East, and
headquarters, he has been in this assignment since 2013, he
is about to retire it to me today, we are very excited for
you. Thank you for coming, we look forward to hearing your
comments Mr. Shelley Pittman .
>>Thank you very much Maria. I am actually quite humbled,
and very humbled to have this opportunity to speak with you,
to have and follow the director Rodriguez, and to proceed is
quite an honor. I would like to thank the office of the
Ombudsman for its crucial work to make citizenship and immigration
services as strong as they can be. Would like to pay tribute to
you Maria, since your appointment in 2012, all of your
work you have accomplished, in particular your service your
chair of the blue campaign . Which is unified voice for DHS
services to combat human services.
>>I would like to commend USCIS more broadly, the global
leadership in providing quality asylum to germination, by US
officials, and a great partner of CR, in terms of capacity
department in neighboring countries, in the Mexico and
Caribbean, obviously for the close
collaboration we enjoyed field level, in the context of the
settlement work. >> I cannot tell a story as good
as direct or Rodriguez, I will pass that on knife — That on, I
have my belt and I feel very secure.
>>I want to thank you for your tireless work of the review
process, in the next few minutes, I would like to
basically talk about the global context, and the natural link to
where we are in the context of transition. Basically to make
the point , this president or the next
president or the next to follow, the system and the world
depends on US leadership to enhance international protection
and to find solutions to the drivers of displacement and the
and immediate needs. A responsibility of the United
States does not shoulder, but has assumed. And we hope it will
continue. There is a common reference to the global
reference refugee conference, no more global than it was before
no less global or local as the impact it has in the families
around the world. If you remember there were
dramatic refugee movements, and Chinese refugee crisis spurred
in solutions that were an president at the time. In the
90s there were movements generated by the wars, in West
and Central Africa, Southwest Asia, and the new century after
the year 2000, we see conflict in the scene of the same
regions, now in Iraq. >>The biggest displacement situation we have seen in 20
years or longer, half of the population of Syria has been
displaced, Libya, Lebanon and Turkey hold a responsibility. There has also been a surge in
internal displacement of internal displaced persons
around the world, there have been regional flows, director
Rodriguez has mentioned, of course to the United States,
that have been isolated. Instances if you will, where the
world Conchas has brought forward because of the problems
at the. It has brought this attention, the plight of
refugees, the women and children, who are on the run and
seeing violence and prosecution around
the world. At last count, there were 65 million displaced
persons. One in every 13. To put it in perspective the number of
people displaced is larger than the United Kingdom. Or the
combined population of California and Texas.
>>5 million refugees are probably still in [Indiscernible], also by far
the number of asylum seekers, ever recorded, 3.2 million
people in industrialized countries, we are well awaiting
asylum in 2015, this was a recipient of new applications
last year, Syrians on the 440,000 people, US was the
second with 170,000 new asylum claims, not counting the
backlog, which was a 42% increase over
2014. Those claims were lodged by nationals.
>>A quick word, everyone knows all too well in this
room, increasing numbers are forced to flee the northern
triangle of Central America as well as parts of America —
Parts of Mexico. Robust system saves lives and reduce the
smuggling. A well-managed border are not incompatible
goals . We will continue to support a
regional support protection, it is necessary now northern tribe
go, like — Now northern triangle.
>>The extent for displacement has reached an president’s —
Unprecedented parts, because of Twitter and social
media we have been able to see the impact at the neighbor
impact, in ways that we have never seen before, therefore we
know truly the social economic impact that it has had on so many
states. There is a mop — Multiplicity, forcing people to
leave their homes. Hopefully soon the Colombian
situation will be resolved. Others are breaking out fresh
like in Sudan, Iraq and me MR, new in recent years, the
Ukraine and Central Eastern Republic, and you are here in
central America — Solutions are harder to find. At which these have been found for refugees
have diminished, people are not able to go home. Voluntary
[Indiscernible] is a solution, it is what the
refugees want, there has to be peace. With hostility right to
rising and communities, and with the World Bank and
others, to enforce prospects not necessarily for local
integration in the suit of strict legal sense, but in terms
of access to livelihoods and finding access to services. I do
not need to tell this room, settlement notwithstanding is
critical, answers a tiny portion of refugees in the world,
critical 1% in terms of providing individual protection
and sending a message of [Indiscernible] as well.
>>There is a growing number as well, of seekers who are in
limbo. On these refugees themselves,
who are not able to make a reasonable likelihood, who would
allow to live in dignity, refugees do not want to be
dependent, they do not want to be detained. It also bears heavily on host
communities, they do not want to see their standards
deteriorate, or be compromised, the influx of refugees and
migrants crystallize the idea that national and community
[Indiscernible] is threatened and it became a particular
emotional issue, now a transatlantic. In several
respects, they demonstrated how important regional bowl coordinated action is, or the
absence of. They cannot solve global crisis eased on their
own. Figure out influx reveals, international can mix with [Indiscernible], to
the global goals. Numerator in the New York declaration in
September of this year. The New York declaration endorsed by the
acclamation of the assembly, policy goals to glide — To guide in the mass
movements of refugees and migrants.
>>In different forums, the leaders Summit led by oh —
President. Obama . >>And a large number of civil society
organizations, there is a lot to suspect the new six Terri
will pursue this agenda, as from January 2017. September was a year after the
onset of the European influx, a significant threshold, we are
very optimistic at the time, the US showed leadership, showed
what needed to be done in terms of mobilizing resources and
commitments to protect refugees, 80 — Including a robust
sediment program. >>To Gardner international will
, and three months later, as the representative here, I
reaffirm this leadership is still needed, this has to
continue, for how else will the world address the root causes,
how else will they meet the needs of millions that have been
displaced, to get a livelihood, to send their
children to school. Your CIS folks know up front and
firsthand the virtue of this goal. Every time another refugee
was granted safety was pledged allegiance to the flag, support
is instrumental for an effect to response to displacement and crisis, [Indiscernible] saves lives
every day, we are still only 50% funded on a good day, in terms
of comprehensive needs and the response capacity. US support is
crucial to the well-being of
communities around the country and that were around the world
hosting get — Hosting for refugees.
>> This has been the strongest
partner in settlement of refugees for decades, this has
been in the interest of the United States as well. The
United States has successfully integrated
generations of refugees, into US society with the help of many
people in this room. For the future, we want to see the
highly effect to leadership continue, the world refugees,
and the displaced, people count on. They’re counting on passing appropriations, that
maintain current levels, if you, or if you would like to have
more in marking, this counts as the new administration, it will require or prevent or reduce
emissions entirely. >>Accounts on the new
administration to welcome refugees, and to allow them to
contribute, to allow them a foothold in their new
communities, in the world’s refugees, we are counting on the
new administration to preserve and strengthen the asylum in the US, this can be done in
a manner that is compatible. As demonstrated so [Indiscernible] and many other agencies working
together the federal government does comply with vetting
requirements, and these are stricter for resettled refugees,
rather than any others. Vetting is possible, for protection, then we are all
poor for it — We are all for it. T — To this , which will compromise to protect and solve these
problems that force millions of people to flee their homes.
Thank you for your attention. [Applause]
>> Thank you.
>> Thank you Mr. pediment, I
appreciate — Bitterman — >>Thank you Mr. pediment — We
need to engage with communities to understand how were
accompaniment. The refugees in the US, and the
contributions they make. — Thank you for your remarks
today. M>> — Working on migration policy
and leading immigration appeals, when you have had a
distinguished career, at the Department of Justice, not only
in the current role, but also as the assistant deputy attorney
working on policy, and deputy assistant in that department
Justice civil division of litigation, one of the many roles he has
played in the field of litigation, we have come to rely
on your sound advice and counsel, and appreciate your winged in on policy
matters, and that interesting space where integration and
enforcement policy meet our humanitarian obligation, you have in
incredible sense of how that comes together, where we have
been and where we are headed, please welcome in joining me
your director. [Indiscernible-speaker away from
microphone]. [pause] >>– [Applause]
>>Good morning everyone. It is good to see all of you, so many
familiar faces around the room. It is particularly an honor to
share the stage with so many distinguished
folks, thank you for this introduction, we are really
going to miss you. Not just I’m sure the colleagues at DHS, but
many of us at IR, you have been a great partner and friend,
Shelley you have been a great partner as well, we will not
just miss you because of your partners parties every year, but
how you approach your work, Director. Rodriguez who has
stepped out, has been in the middle of so many issues as
well, he has been a friend and great partner he has been here
and will be missed as well, we did a naturalization ceremony
together, he did remember [Indiscernible-speaker away from
microphone] I’m happy to say, I was reminded by what he said in
terms of citizenship. It was that energy in the room,
naturalization ceremony, the inspiration in the room,
was captured at the end, as the applicants and the families are
coming up to get their certificates, and after one of
the mothers turned to them and said it’s a beautiful day. Even
though it is a different thing we do, others, I was reminded on
how all rolled roads lead to that end point, and make our country
better. I want to think one other person before I start, in
the Ombudsman office, Rene who is not only fabulist lawyer, but
incredible public servant thank you for everything you do and
continue to do. [Applause] SEMA — [Applause]
>>I would like to spend a few moments on what we do at the
immigration court system, and a system right now which has an
important issues, change and challenges larger policy issues that the
country is dealing with with regard to immigration, and some
of the larger issues, speculating a little on some of
the things that we can continue to be important. Let me start with a snapshot of
the system, this is of course the former court system that
determines relief. Which of those individuals that have been
charged with immigration laws, should be ordered and removed from the
country, those should merit the ability to stay whether an
asylum, or another form of relief of protection going forward into 2017 and
beyond, the most important issue going right now is the effort
to add resources, in particular at the judge level there has
been new stories for this, the system for many years, really
works in adequate resources, the resources to do reinforcement efforts ongoing
at other efforts we are trying to make up in time with
regarding the hiring effort undergone the [Indiscernible] right now. The
hiring freezes that the entire government was under starting in
2011, where a number of resources, which decreased over
the years, either steady or rising, and the entire court system,
this was really behind the eight ball, and took a long time to
recover, the second I will talk about to show you, the situation with the
Southwest border, and the individuals coming through. Not
just for the courts, but for the immigration agencies throughout
the executive branch. I will could — I think this could
continue to be an issue. >>We have begun an aggressive
effort to hire judges, in the spring there were only 230
judges as it was on the courts right now. 30 judges are hearing
judges — Care hearing cases.
>>The Atty. General. has thankfully selected 60+ judges that have
been selected to it going through the background
covariance — Clearance. Why is that important?
>>Including the function of this court, this is necessary to
function, and to protect your view and process, those who
cover for the judges get the hearing, and a remove order or
issues to get their day in court once they
come before their judges, with a system that has adequate
resources, we are on our way to 370+ judges, hopefully by next
year. It is critically important of this hiring effort to
continue, I think it will, it is where it starts to deal with
the very large record caseload of 500,000 pending cases, many
of them protection claims, for asylum and related relief and
protection. Frank — Frankly the biggest we have right now,
we do not have space. We are doing so much hiring we are
adding court rooms, for the necessary courtroom
space, to add these judges. That will begin — Continue to 2017 , we are reorganizing some of
the structure, using technology more efficiency, looking for
management efficiencies, and working closely in various
locations of the country to make sure the courts are handling
appropriate cases. Back to the 24 enforcement, where Secretary.
Johnson stated important for DHS as a whole,
our responsibility is to take care of these things that come
to us, we are also working to facilitate the review of
cases, those that do not need to be in immigration court, or a
removal issue, or individual does not have an interest in
seeing protection for relief going forward, should not be in
court. These have been successful in
reducing the caseload. And some individual courts, we will see
where that goes, we will continue going forward.
>>Let me talk about the border situation. I do think this is
potentially, it has been a game changer.
>>Also something that we will continue to deal with, the
repercussions are far and wide . The border situation, the
influx whatever you want to call it, began as you know in 2014.
In the spring of 2014 with large numbers of Central American
families and unaccompanied children coming to the Rio
Grande Valley of Texas, and presenting themselves at border
patrol stations. >>I have dealt with a lot of
policy issues, this single issue government wide really,
significant concerns all the way up to the White House level,
resulted in a presidential order for the federal agencies to
focus on these cases of the folks that were crossing the
border, what we did, was to prioritize the cases of
families and children coming across the border, we move them
to the front of the dockets, making enough judges available
to hear those cases as promptly as possible, to move forward.
The effects of that, have been significant, the border
situation has overwhelmed many immigration
courts, not just us. But the situations of HHS, and the
border control situations, all have been greatly affected by
this. Also displacing cases in the future, pending in the
courts for a while. Have been displaced into the future,
causing long wait times. >>The amount of time people
have to wait, on these related claims. The
adjudicating of these type of cases, and trying to do this
quickly. Our commitment is trying to do this at all times,
but you can imagine, it has a significant challenges, we are continuing to adjust. We
have changed timelines, and the parties a little bit, Hard of
Hearing —
>>We have hiring, which I think the border issue will
continue, the numbers you have seen, in the media that has been
rising in the last couple of months, once again, it is putting a significant stress
on all federal agencies including as. It has potential
troubling repercussions with the system, because people are
having to wait a long time , not just with immigration
courts, but with the asylum offices, this is something worth
watching. Recognizing this is not just a
border security issue, but a significant humanitarian issue,
people are fleeing and leaving central America for a lot of
reasons, because of the violence, that is taking place
in the countries, and other countries, whatever solutions we
come up with forward in the next couple months or coming year, we have
to recognize that significant reality, one of the reasons why
people are leaving. The very serious humanitarian
issue in those countries. >>Let me touch on a few other
initiatives, that I would like to highlight, what is good about
these, many of these, we have had close partnerships on,
working closely with Maria, thank you, we have worked with
her and a lot of her folks on these things, great partnership.
I think it is important, these various things going on, are not
important only because of the benefit it does and the people
that it brings to the people that comes before us, but it
helps the integrity of the system. Let me start with legal
initiatives, access to counsel initiatives, and designed to
help the system work more efficiently, these have been
effective. Many have been familiar with the legal
orientation, a program we have had for many years. Really more
than a decade. Designed to know your rights
presentation. An individual orientation, self workshops, where individuals primary
detained, but also elsewhere. >>Through LLP — LOP — We provide some of these
services, some of you in the room may be with those services,
the bipartisan nature of what we do, this is not a popular
program again it provides important information, L so the
data shows it helps decrease the amount of tension. — Also the data shows it helps
decrease the amount of tension. Texas bring in these number of sites to 41.
>>We have an important program called LOC, accompanying
children. This has become more important, it provides the
orientation and help guide them in making sure that they bring
[Indiscernible] to court . We have expanded to Memphis,
and restricting around the country.
>> Early 2014, we be gone — We
begin a partnership with national community service, the
folks that administered they AmeriCorps program, to provide
paralegal lawyers, preparing around the country, today it has
served 2300 , this has been a success, we
are on the third year of that program. It has helped not only
to provide the services, but also to help the judges in these
challenging cases. >>For those folks that may not
have access to counsel, and may need additional information,
they have provided funding for the help desk, we have launch
that program to help immigration help this, for the five
caseloads around the country, we look forward to seeing how that
develops over the next few months.
>>For the anti-fraud development, we have been
working over the last few years, we started a joint anti-effort, scrupulous individuals who pray
on people in detention, and this is one of those programs
that show the government can work together come the agency
has come together, other DOJ components, and the federal
trade commission, to put together a robust multi agency
effort, to try and make it for some of these at Tivoli’s.
Somervell fly-by-night operators will this has really helped to
protect the integrity of the system.
>>We have added investigators to a anti-fraud, trying to
provide information and referrals for some of the pics
— >>Some of the [Indiscernible]
at levels, this is how we go after, really with the corroding of these
responsibilities, also we want to make it easier for the good
guys to step in and represent people. The people who need
representation, there is a great need out there. We have been
working very hard. Recently trying to finalize
what we call recognition and accreditation initiation —
Accreditation recognition.
>>These rules for the third set we are trying to get done,
these other two were published last year, we are trying to get
them done again, to make it easier for those organizations
that are legitimate and good, and interested in representing
people well, to step in and do so. We look forward to working with
many of you on that. The implementation of that. I think
we do these things not just because it’s good for people,
but for the judges themselves. It makes everything function and
run much more smoothly. >>Let me speculate briefly. We
do not have a lot of [Indiscernible] What is going
forward with the new administration,
what is possible? Changes are possible and likely in some
areas. With regard to operations , a lot of what we do will
remain the same, what our responsibility is, our mission remains the same.
>>We will continue to do this, resources we will continue to
add resources than the initial service , the initiatives and so many
changes are possible over the next year. I want to leave you
with some things will remain the same, from the court’s point of
view, we are responsibility to provide [Indiscernible] and due
process, continuing that whether it is under the current
administration or new administration, we are getting
as to that point, the burdens we have. I think at
this point, anything beyond that is pure speculation. We are
able to remain to have a steady-state
system. Sri Lanka want to loop things back a little bit to the
naturalization issue.>>In many ways it was a
reminder and what our system is designed
to do, for those that qualify, for protection or the
availability of state, country is not enriched, it is shown that people are
joining this country as citizens. Our hiring efforts, a candidate from original other
country, I believe a lawyer in New York. I asked him why he
wanted to be a judge, my family friend, prosecution 50 years
ago, we went through a refugee process, which was the
equivalent at that time, we the [Indiscernible] who began , and
the officer was tough, and applied this to our situation,
and I was approved, he became [Indiscernible], he remembers
the refugee officer , and remembers how it feels to be
heard. The result of this coming to the country
and joining the US, as an accomplished lawyer, he
wants to do the same thing, he wants to become a judge, to get
back not to the country that welcomed him, but to sit in
listen to people. Whatever the answer is that is the
commandment that we have, in the integration system. Thank you
very much for your attention. I look forward to seeing you
later. >>
[Applause] >> Thank you one — Juan .
>>I have spent many hours on both sides of the
aisle, the immigration judge had a tough hearing, at the end of
the day, I came up at the end of the day, — The family said
thank you I know we feel heard, we lost her case but we had a fair
hearing, the immigration judges are charged with that, I
appreciate your commitment in that the due process is protected,
we focus on fairness , we always tell folks coming to
us for assistance, over 14,000 people coming to us every year,
our goal is not to get to yes, but we are focused on transparency,
process, making sure that they have a fair opportunity to
apply, law and policy that they are followed. Experience is also consistent with our
values, and how we want people to be treated. Thank you for
your leadership, thank you for listening, I think Stacey will
have some housekeeping ideas here, and thank you our morning
speakers. >>[Applause]
>>I would like for the plan very — Planetary speakers to
meet back here in 10 minutes, Stacey has more to
say to you. >>Really I just want to say we
will have a short break, please be back by 1045, please be back
by 10:45 AM, seated, make sure everyone gets a seat, and the
plan and Neri — Only these preliminary speakers will meet
in the room. >>If you get coffee and
something to eat, please ate outside, don’t forget to
turn your phones back off when you come back in.
>> [The Event is on a 10 min
recess. Event will reconvene 10:45AM. Captioner on stand-by]>>Can you please find your
seeds thank you. Please move to the middle so everyone has a fee, we will
get started in just a moment. >>>>We are ready.
>> Okay we will start the morning
plenary if you can have a seat and give
everyone on the stage your attention please. Thank you.
>> Welcome back. Can you hear me?
>>My microphone is on. It is very low. Is it better? Can you
hear me in the back? Traffic welcome back. Thank you for
coming back in 10 minutes. My name is Maria Oldman — Maria
Oldman — Maria Odom
>> Working in the office of
quality management and quality issue support, Joe, has an
understanding on the budget and how it is funded and projections
are made, a lot of people will find this interesting, our staff
appreciates working with you. We understand the value, and how
you look at processing time, to work to evaluate what is needed
for the future, thank you welcome.
>>We also have some familiar faces as well, one of the
[Indiscernible] we have just met, for customer service , she is a 29 year veteran of
the agency, she is 29-year-old veteran of the agency.
>>Is a better? >>
[Laughter] She is working with her terrific team, Deputy Rogers
is there, working hard to innovate and bring new forms
that bring in customer service to the US IIs — USCIS , if you
have paid attention to her work, you have noticed her public
engagement, has been very robust, in her effort in leading
her team.>>Bill Yates, welcome. I feel I
had to leave you alone to visit for a while, it felt like a [Indiscernible] .
>>Serving in the agency as acting director into service,
for immigration, and chief domestic
operations, you are also working as a consultant on
national security issues, we appreciate that you are
available, that you have experience, a historical
perspective on where the agency has been, and how this has
impacted the fraud detection, I have enjoyed getting to know you
more, and hearing your perspective on the agency, and
going forward. Of course we do have the director of the center
of operations, another veteran of the agency. We also enjoy
working with you John, — Don .
>>Across five service centers located Texas, Alaska, Vermont,
most recent Virginia — Welcome.
>>Gary is currently concluding a detail, chief counsel on
immigration and border submit security, he is chief of staff
at the office, and acting deputy director, the longest tenure
employee, along with Brenda. You have worked now for every
single [Indiscernible], IM your favorite right?
>>[Laughter] >>We appreciate Gary bring — Being here welcome Terri.
>>We are going to have a fast-paced conversation, we do
not have a lot of time, we want to cover a lot of ground. I will
keep it going, so that we have time for question and answer
period at the end, forgive me if we go a little too fast, we
will keep it at a good pace. Our panel will entertain questions,
regarding transition in new immigration policies, please
bear in mind as you stay in, we do not know the new
priorities, keep that in mind. Our leaders are not going to
comment or speculate on immigration policy going
forward. What is the goal of the center? Hopefully to walk away
with a better understanding. To ask questions about challenges,
and in the USCIS spaces, and this high-volume application.
How their agency works with the
unforeseen plans, and tech killing — And tackling issues.
>>Hopefully you will gain a better understanding of what
they do they in and day out in coping and delivering
immigration services across the country. In my remarks this morning,
several issues and challenges that I think the agency faces
now, transformation, and the mass of the year-long transition
, revising processing times, and how they set those goals,
contingency planning, we will hopefully discuss. And delays.
Many of you in this room are practitioners, and provide
services to employers. >>You may have noticed we have
seen a backlog across product lines across US CIS, there is a
role that increases fees, we want to discuss how the agency
and the staffing agency models, how the agency will respond to
this backlog environment. To deliver on its processing goals.
With that. We will give each speaker a couple of minutes to
give us an opening statement. I would like for you to address
what you would say in your new current state of the agency to
your director, and what is the most current issue to address
right away? >>Maria I would like to think
you for the opportunity — Thank you for the opportunity for
participating , it is a privilege to be here
and talk about the agency budget and financing structure, I have
been with the agency since 1995, we currently are funded
through fees. You have heard 95% of FY 17 budget is funded with
immigration examination fees. And all of appropriation , if I were to [Indiscernible,
audio cutting in and out]talk to the director, I would say as we
look forward we will be mindful towards these organizations,
one thing we have seen over the last several events, is the fee
increase. Partly because the fees result in fees that don’t
occur but two years, they take five or six years in between
which takes a large adjustment in the fee structure. If no one
is here, if it is going with these expectations and
responsibilities, and keenly aware of the impact on this
impact population and service, it is not always a popular and this time at the table,
trying to be fiscally responsible [Indiscernible,
audio cutting in and out] and mindful of every dollar we spend
could add to the top line of this fee.
>>This would be my opening amount .
>>It is an honor to be with you. And all of you, you all
will be the next citizenship of [Indiscernible-speaker away
from microphone], and dedicating my life, came to this country,
and a woman in this organization, we would not be
able to do what we do, he or she will not be able to accomplish
his or her goal without partnership, we have developed
over the years with this commitment to engagement, in
USCIS, they have had a strong commitment and dialogue. It is incredibly difficult it is extremely to move
forward, without recognizing what you bring to
this organization of ours. >>I agree, the feedback that
you received, to engage in this engagement
the sooner the better thank you for allowing me to
participate Maria, with our colleagues here. To suggest a theme, consistency
of process, commit to that, this means not to ensure and that you also commit to
this timeframe, I would also say with respect to customer
engagement one thing I have heard in my
career, it is not easy to take
criticism to standing up ODM sit in a chair like we are, to have
people that represent all of the country, — Standing up or sitting in
the chair like we are. >>– To see these critics in
the organizations that will speak up and work with us, many
times they told me how policies were being implemented before I
knew they were implemented throughout offices across the
country, I would share that Turco specifically one other act I would say to
focus on would be on request for evidence.
>>I think we have is — This specific issue,
everyone shares some blame in it. I think I call it an
evidentiary vortex, at the center of this swirling mass,
immigration practitioners look at those and then they try to
incorporate the answers to all of those questions, in the next
case that they file, over time they are filing , and they start to get larger
and larger to try to anticipate everything. The files that come into the officer are far
more complicated, now they are searching. For evidence, and
seeing all this other stuff, what I used to call fluff that
you used to get through, many times you will see them right
attempt to deny, or another RFC , based upon evidence of minor
value, which should never have been included. I think work has
to be done there. It is identifying all of the core
issues or the core pieces of evidence for each and every
adjudication. Then working with people in trying to train them
to cut them down on the kitchen sink
approach. >>Thank you. We want to expand
on that a little bit later. Over the past I don’t know how many
years we can talk about the need in the training area, and
applies to these applications in this area to achieve this thank
you. [Captioners Transitioning]>> What I would say is I would
sign up. What I would emphasize is the operations guys we have
to solve the problem of the basic imbalance we have. And the
staff the resources that we have that we had to do the work
in the processing times we are delivering on we are not meeting
our goals we are taking too long in far too many situations.
We have to tackle that . I’m sure in times past we have
a combination of adding staff and increasing the staffing
levels we need but trying to find efficiencies so it’s not
just continuing to apply more resources. We are in this
timeframe that we are evolving from a paper process to an
automated process at the heart of it we always have
adjudicators adding what they had which is to exercise the
discretion and judgment and what we want to do is have processes
in place where the adjudicators that’s what they do best and
they don’t do other things that they don’t need to do. We need
to empathize that going forward. will take a creative approach.
We have discussions about whether you need more bodies or
whether other strategies are needed in combination with the
staff. And the concern that more employees and adjudicators
could name higher fees for people and how sustainable is
it.>> Good morning. Thank you, Maria.
It’s a pleasure to be here. I have disclaimer nag – – language I’m not speaking on behalf as a
member of the judiciary committee. I
always find that very freeing and less what I am on a panel
with my boss. I guess one of the things having spent a year and
a half on the hill I want to convey is the challenge to do
oversight of the immigration service, all of the focus is on
the enforcement side. It takes all of the oxygen. Order issues,
removal and deportation. That’s where the attention is. When it does get attention as I
think all the panelists know, is when a bad actor is given a
benefit or a visa. And so San Bernardino office for example
then there’s attention on how did this fiancée visa get issued
or a petition get approved.>>I think these significant
overarching challenges for the agency is not customarily a part
of congressional oversight. That’s unfortunate. I think the three things I
think about have all been touched on. I think maybe in
this panel even. It’s the fee funding structure which I think
leads to some perverse incentives where there are whole
fee streams that come from delays and adjudications. I also
wonder to what extent and I defer to Joe and Don and
Bill, it means the agency is behind
in a cycle so the receipts are increasing and the revenue has
not caught up to it. Maybe I’m wrong. I would love to hear more
from the experts they are. That’s one of the fee funding
structures. Second is the antiquated information
technology. The transformation is very much a part of that. I
think, correct me or amplify what I’m saying it creates challenges for
forecasting for you SDS to understand the inventory and the
adjudicator efficiency. And it’s also taking significant
prima processing revenue that the agency would use otherwise.
I think the third overarching challenge is the complexity of
the immigration law. Of course their Congress as part of the
problem and not the solution. I will leave it there for now.
[ laughter ] >>Thank you, Gary. Turning back
to you, Joe. USDS recently published a fee role for their
fee schedule. That final rule and the agency noted that a fee
increase is necessary to focus on the involvement of pending
applications and petitions. We were able to comment on the rule
as it was being developed and worked with you to understand
the process that so we have that benefit but perhaps some folks
in the room stepping back could use your one-on-one or how the
agency is – – how the work of the agency
is funded. How often do you review the fees? What do you
look at when you do a review? >>I just threw all three
questions on you in the interest of time.
>>Has a primarily fee funded agency, one of the principal
documents that we adhere to is the CFO
act of 1990. In that CFO act requires that agencies that are
administering fees structures conducted biennial reviews of
the cost and the revenue to determine if in fact, the fees
that are charged are recovered in full cost. We adhere to very
strict processes for conducting the
fee review. We adhere to the financial accounting standards
advisory board. It really lays out what goes into a fee review.
Generally there are several critical inputs that define what
those fee should be. The volume forecast we come up with
annually to determine what we expect our workload to be. That
is a significant effort that we have matured over the last 13
years. This activity actually dates back to the legacy INS where we sat around the table
with a lot of subject experts and try to forecast our
workloads. We use statistical modeling we
look at 10 years of historical data and we use statistical
techniques to tease out any unique seasonality that might
affect the volume forecast. I will say that that process has
really matured to wear given the crystal ball sort of processes
involved, we are very accurate in forecasting the projections.
Where we are lacking and where we hope to the expansion of the
filing and obtaining greater data is to be able to forecast
for 2 to 3 years out which will help our resource planning and
help some of the issues as far as staffing.
>>One of the other significant issues we look at is what we
call the fee pay volume of our application and petition volume.
What that means is that because we have policies in place that
afford low income applicants to file for fee waivers, not every
application petition that would normally accompany – – be accompanied by a fee
comes in with a fee. To the extent the number of waivers and
exemptions that are authorized to grow, that puts a lot of
pressure on the fee structure to have to increase fees for those
that are actually paying to cover the cost of those that are
not getting – – that are getting the benefit without
cost. That is a big driver of cost for us. The other thing we are very
attentive to is the actual cost of administering the agency. You
need to collect sufficient revenue to cover costs. Earlier
in my opening remarks I was tongue-in-cheek to say I do come to the table with
that. We have to be efficient. We have to hold cost. One of the
things that are 2016, ’17 fee review which Maria had mentioned
is now published final and the fees will go into
effect on December 23 is the fact that of the weighted
average 21 percent increase that the role presents, only four
percent of that is related to actual cost growth of the
agency. The rest of it is the result the real policy decisions
in the fee setting process. Increases in waivers over the time period from the last the
increase as well as putting back into the fee structure the cost
of administering the refugee and asylum programs. Programs
that were taken out of the last fee with the expectation of
Congress would provide appropriate funds for
which they didn’t. When you break on the 21 percent, and
consider only four percent is a result of only four percent of
growth. I think we have managed our costs well. All of us at
USPS are mindful of the cost of the activities and adding new
workloads and things of that nature. I will also say that the
fee funding structure we operate I think is appropriate for the
type of work we do because if we were wholly appropriate in
funding we couldn’t possibly absorb the fluctuating workload
that we see. The beauty of the fee-for-service model is people
apply for information – – immigration benefits were
getting fee revenue to be able to respond . We will probably get into this
later but just the congressional oversight that we have and how they help
administer our fee account is an area we would like to see
improvement moving forward. To give us more flexibility to
really fully utilize the fees in a way that I think Congress had
intended. Quickly our fees, our – – are set through the
immigration and nationality act we have a permanent and definite
appropriation. We have no your funding. That means that our
fees that we collect can be spent and carried over from year
to year. It’s a very involved process to set the fees. Finally just a comment on the actual
application petition fees, the reason they vary so greatly
across all of the different application petition that is
because the fee is really a reflection of the complexity of
the adjudication involved. Those fees, those applications tend
to be highly complex they require more officer time they
tend to be more cost loaded against them. That drives the
fee. Then of course the actual amount of waivers and exemptions
the different fees have. Like I said, I can talk all day on
this but that generally is a thumbnail.
>>I think it was worth spending time going through that and you
do it so clearly we appreciate it. Are there any reactions to
that? Any questions?>> Don when you started you
said you were experiencing some challenges in meeting processing
time. I guess I would ask you to unwind that a little bit. The
beginning of time. What’s driving that right now? Is an
increase in the fees? Is it an availability to step up?
>>It’s a multitude of things. Principally it’s generally
speaking for the last couple of years receipt levels have been
going up and up. Upward trajectory. Combining that with our processes are not
getting simpler for the most part. There is added complexity
when the policy directors come out or new decisions come out,
they tend to make things more complex not simplify them. The length of time it takes to
adjudicate single cases is taking longer. The volume of
cases is going up. Our staffing levels are not going up. We are
growing this year we are growing in the service centers for the
last couple of fiscal years we have been staffed at around 4000
federal employees and we are going up to approaching 5000
this coming year. The process of on boarding
people from the time you decide and get the funding to hire them, to when they are
actually onboard can be a six-month to nine-month maybe
even a year process. We are staffing up this year to add the
capacity that will help us reduce the processing time but
in the meantime, we are behind the curve. The way we try to
manage that is we look at what our inventory of work is, but
also the work that is coming in . Which centers would that work
be going to? How can we manage it so we don’t have backlogs
popping up in areas that we would most prefer not to. All of
the work we do is important. There clearly is a
prioritization of work if you look at what the impacts are
from delays. For example, we tend to when we don’t have
enough capacity for the volume we are getting, we will take
preference cases the immigrant family-based preference cases
and petitions those we will give a lower priority. They are not
the most urgent. Even though those folks have paid and they
would like a decision and our goal is to do in five months.
The impact of us failing to me that is less severe because if the visa bulletin does not
show availability for them, they are still a way to get the
ultimate benefit they are seeking. On the other hand
someone applying for employment authorization, they are here and
in need of employment and our goal is to get them adjudicated
most of them within 90 days. We don’t meet that it means someone
is unable to work which is much more significant than someone
not having the comfort level of having their petition approved
but still denied – – not being able to access [Indiscernible].
What we try to do is manage so we are putting the staff we have
on the most important workloads and trying to achieve the
processing that we have. >> Thank you pick that gives us
insight into prioritization and how that happens. I want to
highlight some things and I know Charlie Oppenheimer is here
from the Department of State thinking he should be having a
mic two. Feel free to weigh in. I do want to go back to a couple
of points you made. One is the complexity and Don has also alluded to that.
The complexity of the adjudications. It’s becoming
greater and greater. I alluded to that in my
remarks. There is a complexity not just in the adjudications
process but also the vetting process and natural security.
The background checks and anti-fraud. I am going to ask you a
question because I think you have some insight here that I
think will be helpful. You are also talking about a population
that applied for benefits that will not file with a filing fee.
I guess I’m really speaking out loud. It’s encouraging Congress
to address that. It will be very interesting to see what
supported – – support if any Congress
will provide through the appropriations process. I see
the guy from the hill shaking his head. I want to go ahead – ->>I think I started my argument
talking about the focus on enforcement. Not to sort of go
off topic but as an example, right now Congress appropriates [Indiscernible] of 34,000 and
right now ICE is detaining over 34,000. And the incoming
administration is talking about increasing that. We have overall
US government budget that is straining. I think it’s hard
to imagine we will see an increase in US DIS funding. I
don’t know if you’re hearing anything different?
>>Aspirational I see maybe it’s worth reminding folks that this
is part of the challenge. I do, when I say that it will enhance
I think our national security and our anti-fraud initiatives
to make some investments in the staffing and the infrastructure
of US DIS I draw from the experience of handling very aged adjustment cases of
individuals that are in the United States. We have
adjustment cases as old as eight and upwards of that. Those are
individuals who are in the United States who are pending
certain processes who are waiting for decision. I think
having a more keen understanding of the impact of the lack of
investments on the agency and how the agency accomplishes the
processes goals is very important.
>>Bill you were still with the agency when the FD and S fraud
detection was created. Can you weigh in and let us
know what was envisioned when that was propped up a lot of – –
another layer to factors that contribute to delays. Is beyond
your control. The work has to be done it’s important work for
the agency. And for the country. Can you weigh in a little bit
on that. >>Sure. I spent many hours
arguing with SEC. Tom Ridge to create that component within USCIS. I feel strongly about.
One of the things we wanted FDNS to do was to conduct
assessments. So we would know what the vulnerability level
was. If I need an assessment and you determine what is the rate
of fraud for that benefit and within that what type of fraud
exists there? We thought we could use that to ways.
Obviously you could target some of your enforcement efforts, but
if you find you have one half of one percent fraud, well then
let’s not waste a lot of time on those cases and let’s not be
sending out wrong RFE’s in an area were basically there’s very
little fraud. In certain types that’s what we found there was
very little fraud. In others we found significant fraud and in
those cases you have to look at what are the processes and the
regulations? How are we adjudicating? We look at all of
your standards. We also envision that FDNS would be able to go out in
the field and conduct reviews. And actually participate in
investigations weeding sometimes to prosecutions. We heard
director [Indiscernible] mentioned that
it’s cooperating with EO I/O are on the prosecution of certain
cases involving the carriers and others that prey upon
immigrants. I don’t know the full extent to which FDNS is
doing it because unlike some light federal agencies DHS
doesn’t usually announce their target. No one got that. [
laughter ] >>Okay. It’s an important function that
they play in working with ICE and other federal agencies as
well as working with the immigration service office. In
determining what are the threats my fear for FDNS is too much of
their time will be spent resolving background checks and
did not doing the other types of work. I think the agency needs
to look at that closely. To make sure they are there for the
officers. The adjudication officers if you give them the
information they need, frankly I think they are outstanding at
making the right decision. Many times the problem is getting
things that they need and FDNS can help.
>> Before I turn to you let’s talk about a few things. One
more question. Are there any – – are there any questions of
resources on FDNS and related functions?
>> One of the areas I wanted to touch on and thank you for this
opportunity is that I think that we as an agency would greatly
benefit if we could work with a Congress in the oversight
committee to give us more flexibility to administer the
fee funding structure the way Congress intended. The balancing
between oversight and access to resources is very challenging
for us. We technically do not require
any further action from Congress to gain access to our fees.
Each year we submit a budget and Congress sets in conference
report language are spending authority. That spending
authority is what we are forced to operate under. As we see
surges in workload or identify new requirements within FDNS, within operations, we
need to add resources based on revenues we currently have
available. We are not able to quickly react and make those
resources available. We have to go back to Congress
with the notification to get them to acknowledge that we have
a need and to allow us to access those fee revenues. That
process is lengthy and causes delay. That inefficiency in the
funding structure that shouldn’t be there. This is one of my
most passionate areas when I talked to our oversight. We do
have a recording requirement in the INA where we report on all
the spending and activity. We are doing that. I think if we
were able to gain access to fee revenues we rightly have
available to us in a more timely fashion we
could better react to demands within the agency. And help with
that resourcing issue. I will say that within our fee account we have
premium processing fees. Those fees are set in statute. I was
with Bill in 2000 when we got that proof. We are using those
fees to primarily support the transformation project. Now with
backlogs, and that source of revenue being strong, we are
actually now leveraging those funds to start resourcing
positions similar to what we did in 2000 when it got approved. The one way we said it would
allow us to expedite the processing of business petitions
was to use that revenue to support the backlog elimination
for family based application petitions. So talking to the
chief counsel we – – agreed it was appropriate use and it’s one
way in which we leverage the available authority to try to be
as forward leaning to make funding available. I think there
are some things we could do within the current funding
structure working with Congress to make it easier for us to
operate and address some of those resourcing constraints.
>>Thank you. Is that clear to everyone? I think so. Thank
you, Joe. Let’s turn to Alice for a minute. You managed a
large call center and I imagine that the brunt of – – in great
part the brunt of dealing with processing delays falls in your
shop to respond to inquiries and to respond to the public. Can
you share the public what is LS and what do you hope achieving more progress and
really achieving a full implementation of the
transformation efforts. How would that translate into better
customer service? >>Definitely, Maria. A platform
for the processing of what are today’s 7 million
transactions, if the future of our organization. It doesn’t
really matter if we are calling it LS or something different. We
have to move in if this is something we are all
in agreement and we’ve heard a couple of times, even this
morning is we have to move in a centric transaction to create a
significant amount of things for both the organization and the
10,000 files. We have to move from that paper centric
environment to an electronic customer centric. I want to
emphasize the customer centric part of this transaction. Just
moving from one platform to another and leaving the customer
experience behind or making that customer experience an
afterthought is not going to help anyone in particular in our
line of business. We have been working very hard as an agency I
think all of the different lines that are now 100 percent
in Ellis. I think that first push
and every time we push a product line into the platform we
learn because I think it’s incredibly complex. To figure out how you bring all
the systems and references that have had a very difficult time
talking to each other because they were not born to talk to each other.
They were not created to talk to each other. They were created
in isolation of each other. That is the reality what we have
today. How do you bring this infrastructure and create the
experience? The first line of business with the immigrant
visa. I think the immigrant visa – – we learn with each one and
from a customer perspective I think that’s what you want to
address. With the immigrant visa customer we push into that
platform 480,000 individuals every year. Volume is our
trademark. What we learned soon was that a lot of these
individuals could pay some kind of very difficult time had to interact with the platform.
Through the process of engaging and listening and understanding
with the challenges were, then we realized the third-party
payment option was going to be critical. The I 90 which is the
form to replace an extent your green card was not as
problematic as we thought it would be. First because it was
still optional to file paperwork although we do have a fairly
robust customer base the filing electronically, and second, our
customer support function went from 12 percent to three percent
quickly. That means we had something that was fairly easy
for customers to navigate. Once you get in to try to be as quick
as I can, then you add a significant amount of
complexity. When you come to the workload and we have to create
behind the scenes to ensure a smooth transition.
>> Things in Ellis are happy
quickly things in the electronic world are happening quickly.
Maybe some of you in this room noticed things would not work as
simply as they shed from a customer perspective. We had
delays in the processing of certain aspects of that entire
transaction. It was through the process of
engaging in through the process of understanding and looking at
cases which is how we get to the bottom of what is a problem
that we discovered and realized that those on the back of front
we had some glitches that needed to be addressed. It is
unfortunate that in the process of addressing those glitches we
also realized some individuals lost their employment document
and I must say that over the last couple of months and I am
looking at Don because his team has been incredible in making
sure they prioritize cases and we now have an employment off –
– we have come a long way I think one of the areas we are
interested in understanding is that at that point we are stable
are we stable? I think we are stable enough to say we are
stable. That’s a lot to be said when you think about looking at
close to 700,000 renewals. I think we are where we need to be
today. >>You have your sea legs now. I
appreciate that you are achieving a greater level of
stability. I do want to emphasize here that there are
two pieces to this effort. There’s the external piece and
the customer’s ability to file an application online. Then
there is the officer who is sitting behind that screen
adjudicating that application online. That is a change from those of
you who have been to interviews or service centers it is a
change from the paper environment and having the
assurance of having that file in front of you with the 300
pieces of documentation that they alluded to. I think in the
process of conducting those adjudications both are renewals
of actions as well as naturalization Eve experience
some rocky moments over the last year. I guess moving forward from the
program which is a lot of expired work authorizations and
delayed naturalization for people who filed early in the
year who didn’t get to naturalize before the election.
Moving forward can you maybe Don or anyone can you share what we
learned from that process. We expect there will be challenges
in implementing LS adjudication but how does
the agency process what it’s gone through in the last six
months and the customers have gone through to move forward?
>>I will jump in. DACA renewals they are an interesting case
because that was the first time we were using the system to
perform actions that previously an adjudicator would have to do
internal to the system is checking – – ABI should
backtrack. For DACA renewal it’s a basic adjudication – – they have to say they are
previously approved for DACA it has expired. That they haven’t
committed some crime that would render them disqualifying. And
they haven’t traveled without authorization. Basically if
those three criteria are met they are eligible for approval. Obviously background checks
would have to be run to get that information. We have to get
them to the ASC. But the system will check those criteria. If
they are all met then it should go through but for the right – –
the end stage it doesn’t require an officer to do
anything. It was challenging initially when we rolled that
into LS to be able to manage that process. We have been used
to managing that process and we had no
prior experience in managing workflow in this manner. In an
automated way. And the DACA renewal processing was the first
time we did it. Any new system you have
glitches and issues that have to be addressed. It’s just the
reality of systems. We had blinders on to see what the
issues were until we had complaints from the public. We
don’t want to be managing that way we needed to perfect our ability
to see into the system and identify where things might be
going before they would impact the customer. We have come a
long way on the DACA renewal. We will leverage that as we grow
in other capabilities to the
system. We know what kind of reports we need to one – – run
and what visibility we need to have. It will be different each
time we renew and I’m sure there will be challenges. I think the
DACA renewal , we have learned a lot.
>>I would like to add to that because I think moving forward
is critical is monitoring the performance of the system at all
levels will be critical. When you see something you say
something. That is one. The other one is and I’ve seen this particularly
over the last few months is that the system has to be
nimble. Nimble enough to recognize there is a
vulnerability and to act on that vulnerability immediately.
Failure to do so because of the volume we need on a daily basis
will result in widespread impact. We need to alleviate
that. >>Any additional comments?
>> One of the reasons I raised
the whole request for evidence issue is because I am worried
about LS because when you take those hundreds and hundreds of
pages of evidentiary material and put it into an electronic
file it can take you longer to adjudicate which drives up fees
and resource needs and things of that nature I think the timing
is so important to try to get a handle on evidentiary
requirements. >>That’s a good segue into
quality of adjudications. Because that’s part of what
limits efficiency. And how the adjudicators are trained to
process these applications. How do we
fix that? How do we achieve consistency and quality of
adjudication and who needs it? How does
headquarters at third – – US CIS and was the role to the
US CIS director who should be concerned about the quality of
the adjudication. How do you manage quality in the field?
Maybe let’s start with you. >>Quality is everyone’s
responsibility. I wouldn’t expect the director to
personally be responsible for solving that and addressing that
what he or she would need to do is emphasize it’s important and
provide the resources to those of us who do have to manage that
if we need something to do that in a better way. I can tell you
in the service centers what we do is – – we get input to how we
are doing from a quality perspective in a number of ways.
We do get inquiries and complaints on individual cases
with the customer service process. We received appeals and
motions on the decisions that we render. We also have
supervisors who review the work of their employees and then we
also do coordinated reviews across
the centers where we have supervisors for
centers to adjudicate cases and review samples and files polled
to review the quality and how things are conducted. All of
that informs us as far as how well we are doing. It depends if we are not doing
well the solution might be in a number of areas. Maybe we have a
training area shoe – – issue or policy issue. Really that’s in
the heart of things it isn’t that adjudicators are failing to
follow guidance but especially in the business. Encountering
situations that were not encountered before. The guidance
we have is not clear. The home public is not clear what the
standards are and what documentation is helpful.
They are filing what they think is the right thing. Adjudicators
until they get the good guidance, they are left with
existing guidance and doing the best they can. Often times we
have to address training and the underlying policy and
overarching policy and then the guidance we give to the public
and the adjudicator pics >>I appreciate that. Maybe you
can weigh-in on we look at cases as an indicator of pervasive
issues across the country. Sometimes the problem is not
large and not pervasive yet. But it shows a trend. Sometimes
there are long standing issues we have to correct for a long
time. I guess when I asked the question about quality, you
answered it. I think you hit an important point which is the
leadership have to figure out how to message the point of
quality. What does that mean? I think that’s where the director
and anyone down the chain could take a step back and say
what is the quality of adjudication what directives go
out to the field. With the goals of achieving consistency across
the board not to undermine officer and the exercise of discretion.
I think looking at individual cases is important because the operation is
removed from headquarters in the policy and training should be
grounded on how those cases are getting adjudicated. I know you
have thoughts about the role of leadership and I want for you to
weigh in. Gary you see it on our end at the abutments office.
What’s been your experience in working with USCIS headquarters
and how does it translate into change at the field level.
>>The authority to adjudicate a case doesn’t start with the
immigration service office in the service centers are the
field office. It starts with the secretary of homeland security.
It comes down. It’s delegated downward through the director
and through executives who have responsibilities. Accountability
is always with the performance of his or her agency. You can’t
escape the responsibility. I agree very strongly is career
executives it’s their responsibility to
make sure those decisions are correct. I think the director
has exactly as you indicated, has a role to be that champion
and certainly let his or her staff know that they care about
the quality, consistency of the work. And if they hear because
they are going to travel around. They are out there meeting with
stakeholders. When those stakeholders are telling them
you have a problem, they need to be held accountable with
stakeholders they need to take action. You are responsible for
that. I do believe leadership matters and makes a difference.
>>Thank you. Gary. >> Like I said start with the
question you mentioned [ Indiscernible-low audio. ] have
you considered publicizing the results of the reviews. I think one of
the challenges we see in the ombudsman’s office is we can all
measure a processing. It’s an easy metric. Quality is
much harder. [ Indiscernible-low audio. ]
>> It is. I think ultimately in
terms of whether the correct decisions are rendered. I look
to appeals. The motion that largely appeals because
relatively independent body and agency that will render the
final judgment on whether we are getting cases right or not. The
cross center reviews that we do they are not for the purpose of
assessing performance. We view them as a useful tool to
identify areas in need of attention. It really is an
internal purpose that we apply those four. I am not against the
idea of having a very clear objective performance standard
and then assessment against that seen her. But I don’t think
it’s right to have – – I think you need to have
separate tools for different purposes. The tool used to try
to identify areas in need of attention is not necessarily the
one we want to use for discussing publicly how well we
perform because it sets it up – – it sets up incentives that
are not right. We want people to find areas not to be coming up
with explanations or excuses as to why it’s acceptable for a
decision to be issued the way it is. It’s what you would have if
you have a subjective criteria. You have supervising around the
table looking at a case and having it be wide open to what
quality should look like and have – – how the case should be
decided. I want them to be free to say in Vermont we would
handle it this way, but I see can – – California handled it
this way. They may not know what’s right or wrong. They may
actually point to the fact that right now we don’t know for sure
what is right or wrong. What we know is we have an interesting
way to look at and an opportunity to improve. If you
subject that to an external report it would have be for the
purpose of measuring how well we do. My guess is we would start
– – stop seeing this thing because it would be their
motivation would be to look and try to find out why that file
was handled correctly rather than [Indiscernible] we want to
find areas as quickly as we can that need our attention.
>>Don mentioned at the beginning of that answer the
administrative appeals office and in the ombudsman’s office we
have looked at the AAO and where I think the first entity
to publish the AAO appeal data and for those that haven’t taken
a look I really think it warrants a
closer review. I think [Indiscernible] because one of
the things we see are wildly different affirm or sustain
rates among the different benefits
category. I think with some of the waiver categories may
approach a 50 percent rate of the agency denial. Denials [
Indiscernible-low audio. ] they don’t appeal approval at close to 50 percent in some
of these categories. Some of the non-immigrant employment
categories with the rates while returning the agency decision
are very low. I it sort of begs the question are adjudicators
that much worse in the waiver category or are the petitions
prepared in the employment categories that much worse. I
say it somewhat sarcastically and I do think it’s worse – –
worth attention because a more robust appeals process to your
point is a key part of the quality. I think it’s also OCC has a
role and I’m interested in the experience in terms of the
roles. There are times and I don’t think it happens
frequently but there are cases in the ombudsman’s office where
we don’t think it’s legal to [ Indiscernible-low audio. ]
>>Do you want to think about? I think we need to go ahead
and address and we will open it up for questions. We all have
some closing thoughts. >>Just a couple of comments. I
know I work closely with chief counsel. I know there are lots
of arguments good healthy arguments on those issues. I
think it’s healthy. I’m sure. With respect to the
administrative appeals office I do think there is one issue
there and I’m not sure if – – if they have addressed and that is
many times you will see a denial for one reason and then
they review it so they actually will go and sustain the denial
but on totally different grounds and there’s new opportunity for
the person to actually submit evidence to overcome that
ground. I think that’s a process issue. It may have the right to
review it the entire matter but I think as a matter of customer
service they should at least if they are tossing out the
original grounds provide an opportunity for response. I
don’t think that is occurring here.
>> With that, feel free to step to
the microphone with your questions. While you do that I
will put in my plug for new leadership to work with you all
to really get to the question of quality. When you launch your
quality in the workplace initiative I think some of us
thought here it is. I appreciate the focus of the quality of the
work lace initiative to strengthen your workforce to be held to high standards on how
they do their work but also to be inclusive and create an
inclusive environment or people are problem solvers and they
want to do the good work with their peers and do it
collaboratively. But I think the quality piece
includes everything we’ve discussed today and I think it
requires strong leadership as you are providing and not to be
confused with trying to build a culture of – – it’s a culture of
getting to the right answer under our current laws and
regulations.>>This is something that came
up during our panel and I want to [Indiscernible]. There was an
inspector general report in 2012 that alleged that US CIS
that report has issues with it. But as we look to a new
administration, with a different immigration
agenda there are concerns of the stakeholders of how that
culture change may affect adjudication.
>>As we discussed in prepping for the panel, I think my job is
to do everything I can to make sure decisions are not being
rendered based on the culture of the agency. In regulations and statutes and
presidents decision to the extent that you would say policy
is about [Indiscernible] maybe there is a link there but it
should be because they should be able to see and understand what
they arch not be because a culture has developed in that
service center or the agency pro anything or against anything.
It shouldn’t be that way. That is difficult because after 9/11
it became very – – it was shining a bright
spotlight on the fact that we do our background checks correctly
and identify bad actors. That ratcheted up the attention on
that. I think it’s fair to say that that also – – I’m sure as
an adjudicator looking at files, it bled into making sure you
are making the right decision on cases that the evidence is what
it should be. I will say this I think that we probably began to gradually
shift from the preponderance standards to some high-level
standards and some adjudications because some adjudicators
thought that was what was required. We have tried hard. In
the years since then to emphasize that what we do for
background checks is different than what we do in adjudicating cases and adjudicating cases on
eligibility if there are legal requirements in a preponderance
of evidence standard we want that standard met and that’s the
end of it. If you don’t suspect fraud that’s the end of it. The
K should be approved and regardless of what’s going on
in the world or how much attention might be given to
background check that doesn’t change. To the extent we want to
have changes in outcomes whether the agency has some
discretion for how that goes and it clearly
needs to be communicated to the adjudicators in public.
>>Thank you both. Let’s take the first question.
>>Chris [Indiscernible] from Chicago. A private practicing
attorney. We have a lot of clients and consistent issues
but perhaps other panelists service center the California
service Center has consistently adapted policy decisions which
come through in our fees and denials. Specifically two areas
which are problematic and we talked to ALA and ombudsman and
we got some [Indiscernible] the visas there seems to be a
policy at the service center not only to deny change of status
from B to F1 but consistently not even consider alternate
arguments. There’s a consistent pattern of putting requirements
in for F1 changes which are difficult and actually
impossible to meet. The second one is involving extensions of
H1B. We’ve had several cases now
from other attorneys as well where those visas on extension
are checked from the very beginning. They are denied
saying the occupation is specialty. Again, categorically
denied. You replied the arguments not
considered its denied categorically and a systematic issue. Not just
one or two time thing and the question is how do we reach that
and get that issue if we see a consistent pattern where some people are denied F1 visas
across the border in schools are complaining they don’t have
consistent regulation on how to respond. One of the requirements
in an F1 visa which is problematic is that all of a
sudden the service center required people to maintain
their status until the application is adjudicated. Is
physically impossible because schools are saying we can’t
issue the document and keep deferring student status dates
or start dates and how you keep in status until an application
is adjudicated. Who knows when USCIS will adjudicate the
application? >> A couple of questions there.
The first thing is how do we monitor trend? You are saying
there’s a trend that is seen at the California service Center.
We learn of that through lots of opportunities for both to raise
it. Particularly from the office of
the ombudsman. We have monthly meetings for a late to
[Indiscernible] that we are seeing. With those student
issues there are concerns there that it requires policy and guidance I will say is
policy guidance the guidance echoes out to the field.
Remember it’s work underway the process takes a while to develop
something on the matter. That’s how we
usually imagine that. That’s where I’m hoping that
technology will assist us in the future because we do have – –
there’s the different – – it was a bill signed many years ago
that we have a deference policy which is basically that absence
gross error or fraud or change in circumstances, prior decision
should be given with respect and deference and if that hasn’t
changed an extension request – – you shouldn’t be calling into
question the judgment of the prior adjudicator. The
difficulty is that last piece about a circumstance that hasn’t
changed. Or gross error. Adjudicators in reality don’t
have access to the file or the paperwork of
the evidence that the prior adjudicator consider. All they
know the outcome. That it was approved. They have no idea what
evidence was presented. What the circumstances were. There’s
nothing to compare indication against the prior one. I can slow the process down if
we were to request those files to bring them back so we could
do it. That’s a process issue. I don’t really see it being
[Indiscernible] until we make the complete file all
the evidence considered available to the new adjudicator
so they can understand what it is and the facts they should be
deferred to the outcome of the prior adjudicator or if
something has changed. I am hopeful as we migrate into LSR
would’ve the platform and zipping we will have the ability
for prior decisions. >> Quick follow-up. In that case
we have inconsistency to go with ALA what else can we do?
Contact someone at USCIS to bring things up . How can we get
it? >>If you want to stay after the
panel you can talk to John and get the best answer. Let’s – –
don’t leave. Glad and make room for the next person. Go ahead
and ask a question we have a few minutes.
>>There’s one other thing I wanted to say and there is
regardless of all of this, file appeals and motions if you think
you have the wrong decision because that will be the
ultimate way to get a decision. Look to those and it’s a very
significant source of information.
>>The same goes to the ombudsman’s office. It’s
important you pursue your appeal or your motions even if you
come to the office for help.>>Thank you for hosting this. My question is about the
increased filing fees especially in EB five categories. It’s
been increased to take the 924 for example up to $13,000. The
processing time for that has increased over the past year by
five months to about 13 months. And with an increase in staff at
IPO I’m wondering how the increased
filing fees will be allocated not only through ED five of the
agency and what the implementation time will be for
LS especially when EB five especially when filings are
repeated and could be more easily streamlined through an
online system. >>I can talk to the fee amount.
We recognize the fee increases are significantly large. What’s
driving that is the low-volume workload but the extraordinarily
complex work. And the personnel we hired
within the investor program office to adjudicate the cases
are very educated and very nuanced on the different aspects
of that workload. It’s a very costly operation. We also in the
fee role included enhancements to improve the overall
processing of the program. There was limited investments. That
is what’s driving that particular fee increase. We are
aware of that. As far as LSM going to do fair – – do fair.
>> The next generation we will be
transitioning to Ellis and it will be an adjustment of status
there was forms associated with it and I do not know and would
be delighted to find out the actual schedule. For the EB 5
adjudication. I don’t see it within the next year’s non-front
of me right now but we will be happy to follow-up.
>>Thank you. >>I just wanted to emphasize
what was said about leadership. You made the point. You are who
your leaders are. The reason the US CIS ombudsman is so great is
because you are the leader. One of the roles [ Applause ] we
are happy that you were here were happy that your move in on
– – moving on but it’s because of your leadership. We see Bill
Yates and the reason you have such wonderful senior executives
like Mariella and Don and Mary and Debbie is because you have
someone like Billy Gates and you have Joe and I could go on. The
bottom line is when you have leaders like that trickles down.
The naturalization era is one of interested in. It seems to be
the one area in addition to enforcement that Congress is
interested in. We’ve been playing with this. Why? It
takes an election year to get a spike in receipt. We have 9
million people eligible for citizenship . They get to the point of the
officer at the end of the day sitting in the office. What I
would tell the director is you have great staff and you have a
great team. We have to support them we should pay them more.
They are the ones at the end of the day when you have 850,000
people it’s a beautiful day it’s important. One last thing. It
comes from Mariella and Director. Rodriguez. I like
special naturalization. I think they are important. It makes the
people and their families that we are part of America. There
was a special naturalization because director Rodriguez
thought it was important it was cohosted by an Islamic society.
And the mayor of Newark. It was unbelievable. It really made a
statement and a time when it’s important to be made. Ahead of
citizenship and Kelly and all the people who didn’t – – it wasn’t the case of the
benefit but is Bill Yates that we have security issues and
problems. All Americans it’s important that we have
naturalization ceremonies. Director Thompson ran it and it was wonderful. We
look to do more like that because of the leadership of
engagement and customer service of Mariella.
>>[ Applause ] >> One more question or have we
run of questions and we are just blowing it quacks quacks
>> Why don’t we take the three
questions – – >> If you have a quick one we can
get to those. >> My name is Jenny Doyle and I’m
from Raleigh North Carolina. I’m a private practitioner and I
know that we all expect changes coming in January but I had a
question about how we can ensure the diversity of the people. We talked a lot about
processes. But the people who are out there on the front lines
adjudicating cases specifically since we’ve seen a spike of
cases around women’s issues and children making sure that those
individual adjudicators who are applying all sorts of discretion
reflect the diversity of not just experience but also – – I don’t know if you are
doing hiring out of teaching her education but I want to hear
from a lot of the leadership that we will see changes at the
top end but there are things we can do from a grassroots
standpoint that will hopefully allow positive outcomes for some
of the clients we represent. Thank you.
>>Any comments quacks >>I would say we have a very
wide net in our recruitment especially for people coming into the
agency. Once we are in for all levels the hiring someone into the
agency is extremely important and we cast a broad net. It’s
different – – I can speak to the service there is a population
that resides where the service centers are located. There is
demographics. It is the case that in California you have a
broader mix of backgrounds they are because of the location.
It’s fair to say [ Indiscernible-low audio. ]
what I would say is it’s really changing because in the last
several years of growth we have had, the hiring we have done at
the centers that are in the more remote locations people are
moving to those locations because they are good jobs. I
appreciate the vote for higher pay, but the positions we have
they are pretty good positions and we attract a lot of talented
people and a lot of people move wherever they reside to get to
the location. >>We are always happy to steal
from you too. >>I work with [Indiscernible]
we work with a lot of people with immigration relief. The
issue of processing time and new visas is a very big one. That
is not my question. My question – – the visa times I think is
June 7, 2014. My question is about the posting and the
accuracy of the processing times on the website. I think it’s
incumbent to find a way to work together in order to see what
the adjudication on the ground matches what is posted because
that affects customer service and when we follow-up and so the
backlog aside which is causing tremendous hardship what can be done to ensure the
accuracy of the posted times. Thank you.
>>I will go ahead and start and recognize the work around some
of the team members sitting in the audience today. That have
taken this and that is timely and transparent and reliable
information is one third on a good day and 40 percent or 45
percent [ Indiscernible-low audio. ] that we taken it
something we can eliminate easily. We want to make sure
that information is available to them. The first step in this is
a long and in many ways a [Indiscernible] conversation
around what is in the best interest from the customer and
will how do we take all of these [ Indiscernible-low audio. ]
they don’t communicate with each other and how do we add the
human aspect of understanding that at the end of the
transaction someone has to update the system to demonstrate
that process had we create a platform of customers to track
the cases because we will be making some changes with our
next December and January and processing times by eliminating
goals I think that will be the very
first step and we are working with their office of quality to
really take it to the next level and that is to just Gus with
all of you and your input figure out how do we represent what is
not only a processing cycle or time but also the percentage of
customers that could be in that bucket and how do they best
interact and engage with how we do it.
>>It’s important work and if you are interested in learning
more about it in the processing things please go to our annual
report we have time for one last
question we have to close so you guys have time to go grab a
bite. >>The consistency in
adjudications for artists. I do a lot of artists EB 1 and EB 2.
I did two sisters they were twins they had the same resume
all the same concerts. One of them was approved the other
wasn’t in Nebraska. I had visited there and I asked the
director and he – – I asked him what kind of training his
adjudicators had quacks did they need to have at least college
when this came in he put his head down and he said no. High
school but they had good experience. I just filed a
fourth EB one petition for a dance or a classical dancer
and when I say fourth she’s the fourth dancer this year. These
dancers are incredible. The first three were just fast
approved, she was denied. I was told it was from Vermont. The
artists are painters and sculptors. Honest to God. I went to Webster’s and pulled
it out. I felt like I had an
adjudicator who is angry with me for pointing this out. Anyway
she was denied and now we’ve appealed. Can there be
particular training for certain kinds of areas may be someone
didn’t understand what artists are what it takes to be a great
artist. >>Bill, Don. Anyone quacks [
laughter ] On the specific RFE that make
the erroneous assertion that artists are only X wires the I
would like to see that when if you can get it through the
ombudsman’s office that would be great. It is challenging. Part
of it depends on what is the evidence that is submitted. I am
assuming for the twins you probably provided the same
evidence but often times what I hear is this case was presented
the same as his other case but they got different outcomes and
often times it’s it wasn’t identical documentation. I say
that not to excuse it I’m just saying it’s complicated and
sometimes things that seem like they are the same are not. The
other thing is that the end of the day it’s a judgment call.
Just like if you were to the court we don’t expect judges
across the land will always render the same decision given
the same facts. It isn’t that that’s not the aspirational goal
but it’s not the reality on the ground. At the end of the dates
preponderance standard and a bunch of evidence and as Bill referenced it may be
evidence that may be buried in this much evidence and it may be
that I don’t want to speak to your case but often it is you
can’t – – it might be what’s needed is in there but it wasn’t
something that they could find when they tried to sort through
all of the evidence. It’s a challenge and it is our
aspirational goal to have the consistency across the board so
the same facts presented to different adjudicators in
different parts of the country would be adjudicated the same
way. We try to ensure that by reviewing cases to see where we
have inconsistencies and standardizing the training
across the centers and providing specific training in areas we
know and we have issues with, and then as I said it’s still
ultimately important to file and go through the appellate route
if you get a decision. >>It’s like those IRP’s if you
think there’s clear error. We may still need to to file that
appeal or the motion to reopen or that request for assistance
quacks – -?. I speak for my colleagues when I say you guys
are receptive to seeing those RFPs and problematic decisions.
Gary, Don, Bill, you have been very gracious. We thought it
would be tricky to have six of us up. But I think we have
covered a lot of what we set out to cover today. I hope it was
helpful to you. I want to thank each of you for taking the time
to come here today and publicly thank you for your partnership
with me and the ombudsman’s office over the past four years.
It’s been a privilege. [ Applause ]
>>Thank you. We will see you back here – –
>>Wiggly. Feedback forms don’t forget to give those to the ashes.
There are some boxed lunches for $10 at the café. You can grab and go to the
Washington room on the second floor where our case team is
waiting for you to come have lunch with them. If you want to
go to one of the area restaurants there’s a few cafés
over on Pennsylvania Avenue. Don’t forget you will need time
to get through security to come back in. The program starts at
1:30. There is one session down here and three sessions
upstairs. I think I covered it all. Enjoy your lunch.
>> [Session is on lunch break.
Event will resume at 1:30 ET. Captioner on standby ]>> [ Captioners transitioning] >>[Captioner on standby.] Good afternoon, everyone and
thank you all for coming to the afternoon session. This is the
sixth annual conference. My name is Gary Anderson. Hot topics a year in review you
have the full bios of the panelist in your folder. I will skip over their
impressive expertise but I do a quick introduction so people
know who stocking because we’re doing a bit of an informal
discussion forum and will let people have more of a discussion
experience. Directly to my right is [Indiscernible] and [Indiscernible] who are both
with the business and farm workers division. Kevin is the
chief. The policy and strategy office for business immigration.>>Next to Kevin is [Indiscernible] who is
currently serving as a senior advisor focusing on
employment-based immigration issues at the [Indiscernible]
office. Next to Fred, [Indiscernible] the founder of
or immigration law firm. A minority owned while firm based in Washington DC
that focuses on US corporate compliance as well as corporate
representation an assistant on immigration issues. Next to
ballot, is now called the associate director of immigration for Ernst & Young
and she oversees their international operation
providing the immigration services to US
practice offices, business leadership, resource management
and recruitment issues. And finally, Alberto Sanchez the deputy
special counsel of the office of special for immigration related
unfair employment practices in the Justice Department’s civil
rights division. A great group of individuals here to lend
their expertise . They will provide us with a
good discussion. >>As many of you know, the
business immigration experience a lot of changes this year. They
were executive actions, initiatives and went into play,
regulations that one final. Some very recently. There were new initiatives to the bulletin, student
training programs and a whole slew of information the changed both the foreign national
experience as well as the business owners experience.
We’re going to start out by letting Kevin and
[Indiscernible] take us through some of the highlights with their policy and strategy
and discussing some of the policies that were introduced as
well as the very important regulation that one final
recently. We will start with the big policy issues and they go
to the final regulation that happened in November.
>>Can everyone hear me okay? Thank you, Kerry. Were pleased
to be here today. Like Kerry mention, we have been very busy
in the arena for the past 24 months, actually. Ever since the
executive actions were announced in November 2014.
Kerry mention our recently published role entitled
[Indiscernible] immigrant workers. Commonly referred to as
[Indiscernible] for those of you who’ve been around for these
types of things. The goal of this regulation is to provide
various benefits for participants. These various
benefits include improved processes and increase
certainty for US employers seeking to sponsor of retain
immigrant and nonimmigrant workers.
Greater stability in job flexibility for those workers
and increase transparency and the application of policy related to these affected
classifications. Many of these changes are primarily aimed at
improving the ability of the US employers to hire and retain
high skilled workers who are beneficiaries of approved
employment-based immigrant petitions waiting to become
lawful permanent residents. While also increasing the
ability of those workers to seek promotions and accept
collateral positions with the current employer, change employers or pursue
other employment opportunities. >>We received nearly 28,000
comments on this proposed rule I think that’s an all-time record
for USCIS. After careful consideration, believe me on
this. We publish a final role moving on, in March 2016 we
publish the final same or similar policy memorandum. That
clarified how stakeholders demonstrate for purposes of
obtaining permanent residency in the United States and the new
job officer in the same or similar job offer under a
previously [Indiscernible] position.
>>We originally published this memo in draft form in November
2015 and we’ve received over 500 thoughtful comments from
stakeholders in keeping with USCIS policy of gathering
feedback for issuing any final guidance.
>>More recently on August 31, we publish a proposal for
international entrepreneurs in which we propose to Amanda
regulation implementing the secretary of homeland security
discretionary parole authority to increase and enhance
entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation in the United
States. Some very creative things the Obama administration
did with our existing parole authority to do something like
this . This rule proposes to add the
regulatory provisions guide the use of parole on a case-by-case
basis. With respect to entrepreneurs of stored entities
to enter into the United States would provide a significant
public benefit to the substantial and demonstrated
potential for rapid business growth and
job creation. For this will we received over 600 comments which
we are currently reviewing and considering, actively
considering those right now. We are continuing to explore ways
to clarify the requirements to obtain national interest waiver
of the usual job offer requirement for second [Indiscernible] immigrants.
That is still in process. Additionally, USCIS subject
matter experts made a strong contribution to Isis OBC will
which strengthens the program so that among other things of
foreign nationals tactical training is more closely tied to
the degree that he or she obtained. This final rule was
published on March 11 and became effective on May 10 of this
year. So that’s just a quick recap of our high level policy and regulatory
initiatives over the past year. There is numerous other things
that we can mention a talk about , but I don’t think we really
have time for that today. At this particular panel. I do want
to highlight two additional items that are listed on the
white houses modernization report. The visa modernization report
was issued in response to stakeholder comments on the
Federal Register request for information which was published.
These two items are draft memos related to the [Indiscernible]
location. One which describes evidence may be more widely
considered during the force of communications and the other
which clarifies how agents might petition for O as well as P. Were working to
finalize these as well . Once again, we are pleased
that you’re here today. We look forward to the panel discussion.>>Thank you. As you said, you
guys a bit busy for two years and review particularly the last
year has been quite focused. Sunday, who is involved with a large organization that
represents a lot of foreign nationals and employees,
particularly with the AC 21 will Watterson take away that you
have found relevant to your representing the business?
>>First I want to thank the US for getting several issued we
appreciate all the effort in getting that accomplished.
Reviewing 28,000 comments, I can’t even imagine. [Laughter]
>> Were still in the process of
digesting this but a couple of things in my first review of
this that I noticed is that the 100 the 180 day extension
doesn’t apply to all [Indiscernible]. There are a
handful that are not going to fall into this category . You’ve also indicated that
you’re no longer responsible to process within 90 days. Those EA
D’s that are not getting that extension are they going to get
priority processing or how would they handle, is quite complicated to people on and
off the payroll. >>When I put the operational
component on that, before they came out here
today, generally speaking the regulation is no longer there
with a 90 day requirement. Generally speaking we meet the
90 day requirement. We want to continue to do that. Those
processes are in place to do that which would mitigate some
of the effects by adding these in the renewal category. The
categories that don’t require underlying benefit before
issuance of said EAD. To do the EAD. These are categories were
pending adjusting the application for renewal . At the operational components
assure us that they’re doing everything they can to stay
under the 90 day window. By day 75, they want you to call them
an issue a service request approaching — when approaching
the processing deadline. So there are processes in place to
try to mitigate that. I don’t think you’re going to see a drop
off in that regard. >>So that call will be more
towards the ones that are not in the 180 day
extension are the ones that we should be —
>>The 180 day extension, even if you’re getting, the getting
the honor of renewal. The were someone once don’t have auto
renewal. I would say prioritize those.
>>You also did some internal commenting on the roles truck in
there. Your continuing to receive comments from the
public? >>We have had people ask us
about the compelling circumstances. Asked us to explain further but
compelling circumstances will be. The role lays out the number
of examples of what would be compelling circumstances for
immigrants who have been waiting in line and have a reason that
they are not able to just continue employment with the
employer. And I think what we have been
saying is we just need to see how that develops with case
adjudication’s. There’s a lot of discretion that will be applied
and we will just have to wait for those cases to show how the
agency will take care of those. Many that said, we will be first
tracking EADs . There have been significant number of DAT
processing adjudication set of occurred beyond 90 days and
there’s multiple reasons for that. Increased caseload and resources, really. We are
concerned that even 180 days may be an
issue in sunset — in some circumstances so we’re watching
that. Hopefully the agency will be able to read dedicate some of
those resources to getting those that do need a
pre-adjudication of prior petition or application done
quickly so that they can still complete [Indiscernible] within
90 days. So with that, back to you.
>> You could mention a previous
conversations the chance to have public engagement. Is there
going to be public engagement for the role?
>>We don’t anticipate that. That decision was just recently
made. >>Okay. But certainly I think
the office is always available for people to provide comments
to and we certainly engage with you and policy concerns from our
office to there’s. >>We welcome all feedback
through a public engagement office. It doesn’t mean we don’t
want to hear what you have to say. At least right now, we don’t know how that’s going
to happy. >>We want all feedback at all
times. >>Is there an email to folks
can reach out to?>>I’ll give it to you after
this. >>I think it’s public
.engagement at I think it’s
[email protected] >>I think there will be one
issue without a dedicated engagement schedule. I think we
do need to hear more from the agency about the supplement and
held up for J supplement will be used and how it will be, will
the beneficiary have to sign it? There are issues there to go to
the question of how it will be used and whether it is effective
and useful to the beneficiaries versus employers.
>>I think some of those questions will be answered wants
[Indiscernible — low volume] There’s been a bit of delay in
getting that. It is supposed to operate in theory. With it —
when there’s an adjustment, and there’s an offer letter. We want to see the supplement
change at that point. You may have to provided in response
when it comes time to adjudicate. So I think a lot of
it will offer the same. It will go to the applicant and what the
employer has to provide and I’m sure they’ll have more
questions about it also. We will see.
>>Is a more formal process to data track.
>> I think is designed to be more
efficient. >>I think a will add to that
efficiency. It will help this agency for tracking purposes and
for consistency. It’s really a question for the beneficiaries,
will they be able to file that form in advance so that they
know before they leave their current work that that position will be deemed
the same a similar. Without that, it’s a leap of faith.
>>I think that’s an important aspect. With they are about to
go to a new position even though obviously the green card
nonimmigrants who want to make sure [Indiscernible — low
volume] >> We don’t want it to be like
every time they think about it but they will get that
assurance. >>Filing something without a
fee and something that’s already in the process. With the role over all most of the things in the role
have been and process for a period of almost 15 years. I
think some of the clarifications before and after but also
limiting their status issues during those 10 days you get
people roped to hang themselves but it needs to be clear the
better understanding of those things in addition to the influx
of adding more [Indiscernible] now your filing a bunch of EADs
and is still as to the competition.
>>That’s the balancing act. >> Obviously does the operational
capacity. >>There are steps being taken.
>>That actually goes in to our next topic. This was something that in a lot of ways was a
policy that was already in place. When changing geographic
locations but then there was this added requirement to actually submit an amended
petition. Allen, let’s start with you with regard to
representing small businesses. How to set policy change impact
either how you advice to clients or how your clients put into
practice the policy? >>I think the underlying issue
is what is required and when is not required. Even with the help
of [Indiscernible], setting up the parameters, from an employer
position you are staffing a job and you
don’t know if the job will be 60 days or 90 days. The issue is
your asking an employer to make a discus — decision about what
the future holds and that’s a very difficult position to be
end. sometimes it will cause a small
employer to lean on the side of compliance and they will file a
petition that they do not need which has to the backlog and
causes issues. So I think the complexity over all probably
requires a little bit more training and education. I think
it’s very confusing. I think it’s exacerbated the problem by
exacerbating the problem, it makes it difficult for any
employer to make any decision with regards to extensions
because when a person is doing the renewal, it doesn’t
distinguish between so everyone will fall in the
queue. That can serve in a lot of different areas. You might be
filing a number of [Indiscernible] for each
application. On the practical side of that, when the service
get that application they’re not looking at that and in most
cases that’s adjudicated new and fresh. And you fall into that
vortex where maybe I didn’t get the transcript. And now I’m
getting a [Indiscernible] for a transfer. Even worse, a kitchen
sink sort of denial. For the small employer with a limited
budget — budget, that can be the only access to
get it adjudicated. >>Sunday, you are nodding in
agreement. >>I agree with everything that
Allen said. We can’t do our work on our sites. We have to get
the clients to do our work. Like you mention you don’t know how
long it’s going to take. It could be take 30 days, 90 days
or’s three months or six months. You just don’t know. We are
filing an amendment and we had to have all law form
actually create a separate [Indiscernible] to process our
amendments. Because you need to be at the clients site quickly
to expedite and get those amendments filed. We are also
filing a lot of LCA’s to preplan what we might need when we file
amendment for location based in our history estimate so we have
them ready to go to file the amendment. We have a significant
amount of time doing education for our business lines, our
partners, our people who are doing the resourcing to clients. I can’t tell you how many hours
and hours of time it has taken to get our program so that we
can be compliant with it. In India, all of our employees are
at a different location. So I’m not sure if that’s a
great resource. We are doing everything we can.
>> Just for other companies that
are trying to figure out, from what I’ve learned so far, the
importance is educating and communicating any way possible
that you can. We communicate through various different
channels to make sure that our employees are compliant. And
most of them are aware of it and they want to be compliant. Sometimes they will say they
can accept this assignment because they have to go through
this process. It can put their career at risk because they mean not be taking the best
assignments or they feel like because of this they won’t
apply. >>Thank you. Fred, you heard
from stakeholders on this and you worked with USCIS on the
inner operations side I know Kevin it’s more of the
operational implementation of the policy this been adopted by
the agency. What are things that you see moving forward or issues you need to be
addressed are highlighted or concerns that you’re going to be
monitoring as senior advisor on these issues.
>>We have heard the same comments that were brought up by
Alan ends Sunday. The premium processing has
become essentially not a matter of choice anymore. It seems to
be the new normal in the business product lines
especially now the A21 are getting to and preaching
the 240 days. So premium processing is a way to achieve
some understanding and increases reliability and predictability.
But there is a costs. Not only the real cost in the terms of
money spent but every adjudicator is not working the normal
processing line. It’s a paradox. To me is a paradox. Without the
resources to really fully manned both lines, were
basically robbing Peter to pay Paul. Because of the lengthening
normal processing lines. Is going to be a disaster.
Hopefully the agency on the operations side will look at
that and see if I understand correctly, if I understand correctly eight
1 D filings are not — H1D1 are not as — identifiable as a
solution. >> That’s all different categories
right now. Again, the service center —
interoperation are fully aware of this. They can have other officers
available they have to have a training issue there and these are easily available
resources. >>There’s a whole new division
of service the fields the capacity planning. They do
expect to improve it in 2017 these steps are in place. And not just when the
amendments are filed. Is causing great concern.
>>They understand that. >> When we start to approach the
240 days we’ve agreed to extensions and
that’s a word of caution to others. If you upgrade your
extension, you can have a problem.
>>That’s a good point. >>We were concerned, we
stakeholders were concerned that through the decision we
would see we adjudications occurring on substantive
requirements rather than essentially a pro forma
adjudication getting deference to the prior decision-making on
the question — question of the specialty. The beneficiary
eligibility. We’ve only had a few cases come
to our office. And I’ve talked to several practitioners who
have practice in this area and they think that they are
rarities. So it’s good to hear. Maybe a specific filing
address, so some is not asking one more time. Their only adding a location.
Is beyond me to understand why it’s not a pro forma
[Indiscernible]. The adjudication path, no one’s
asking for an extension of time it’s a notice . Is just notification only
without adjudication. >>You remove it from the other
work log. >> A big red envelope a separate
address. >>I appreciate that suggestion.
We can take that back. >>’s server mentioned, moving the
inventory, the trying to manage the object. The inventory and
effective processing times, how has that affected your
consultation to your clients, to your employers about what
happens when a transfer happens to what to expect and what
you’ve seen as that’s occurred. >> It takes a long time to get an
approval and you’re in limbo until you do. Just with our
change of employer cases, people are more hesitant even though
they can report to another job they are more hesitant to
actually resign and come over without the actual approval
notice. So we’re seeing longer delays from some people to join
us because of these delays. >>Because at that point, that will give them
authorization.>>They want to make sure the
case is approved. They hear the stories that someone’s case gets
denied and to get that overturned is challenging.
>>If you’re traveling or you can control was going on with
your family one company working for another company the same
thing, get a drivers license with the red —
understanding that this is problematic and the main push
from the individual, their driver’s licenses are
expiring. I need to get to work. What do I do?
>>And so that’s really the concern.
>>We’ve done some work around this entire extension role. The
intersection of the driver’s license issues, employs the to
get to work. And so were pretty mobile
society now. Many people walk to work. It’s something we are
looking at perhaps forming of working group with DMV’s through
some central location , there’s an American
Association for [Indiscernible] and to get together with DHS and
USCIS to see how to get our arms around this .
>>Perhaps an endorsement of some sort .
>>If I’m understanding, there may be endorsement on the
automatic extension cases. That might give a foothold presented
to the DMV. Are either of you aware of that or can’t talk to
that yet? >>I think the other issue is,
having to go to the DMV and pay for your drivers license for one
year and then another year when you get an extension for
three years for drivers license, if you’re having to do a for
240 days and then wait in line, —
>> With all of this, with all the
amendments and new LCA’s everyone’s trying to follow the
rules and keep their employer and employee happy and people
working within the parameters of the law. Those parameters also
require enforcement as well as protection against
discriminatory employment practices.
>> Can you speak to what your
office is doing to either educate employers or protect
resources for the foreign nationals?
>>As Kerry mentioned, I’ve worked in the Department of
Justice. A very long business title. But
basically, we refer to ourselves as all as sees. I want to talk
briefly about what might office does. And what resources are
available to you. What we do at Officer [Indiscernible — low volume]
>>I just want to talk very briefly so that everyone
understands how are covered by the law and we can talk about
the common violations to come up.
>> In terms of contact, there are
four types of conduct that are prohibited. The first is citizen
status discrimination. This occurs when an employer takes
individuals differently in hiring, firing, and recruiting
because of their citizenship. An employer cannot discriminate
because of somebody citizenship or status. A classic example of
this type of discrimination is an employer that says I’m just
going to hire US citizens. That violates this rule unless that
employer must engage in citizens to — citizenship status.
Sometimes we see that. For example police departments. Many police departments will
allow for that type of discrimination. So that’s what
type of discrimination. Cemented — citizenship status or if
there’s four or more employees. The individuals protected from
citizenship status are US citizens, US nationals, refugees
and recent local permanent residents.>>The second type of conduct
prohibited is national origin
discrimination. This is occurs when an employee treats
individuals differently in hiring, firing a recruiting.
Their national origin includes the place of their birth, their
ancestry, their heritage, their language. All of that is
encompassed within national origin. An employer cannot treat
individuals differently because of their national origin. This applies to employers that
have four to 40 employees. There’s another that prohibits
that that applies to employers that have 15 or more.
>>The next type of contact prohibited is retaliation. An employer can’t retaliate
against an individual that is trying to exercise their rights
under the statutes. If an individual calls our office to
complain or an individual files a complaint for discrimination
and an employer takes adverse action against them, that would
be retaliation. The last conduct prohibited by
the statute is unfair documentary practices. It’s a
little bit longer to describe this practice. It’s a very
common violation. This occurs when an employer is verifying
some of these work authorizations. When an employer
is verifying whether someone is authorized
to work, they cannot ask for more different documents the
what is required. They cannot specify a
particular document that needs to be presented. They cannot
reject valid documents because of somebody’s citizenship or
immigration status. The way the process should work
is when an employer is verifying someone’s
authorization, the employee is the one that gets to choose
which documents to present from the list of acceptable
documents. Many times we see that that is
not how it works. What ends up happening and a classic example
of this is when an employer says I noticed that you Martin
section 1 that you’re not a citizen. Show me your EAD. Show
me your permanent resident card. That’s an example of specifying
a particular document that needs to be presented because of
someone citizenship status. That’s against the law. It’s a
very common violation. So what are some of the common
violation issues that we see all the time? The hiring preference
on the base of citizenship status is very common. Which is
entered into a settlement with the Denver Sheriff’s Department
over this issue. They didn’t have a lot in Denver that
authorize them to have that. They ended up excluding and so we entered into a
settlement agreement with them for that. Unfair documentary
practices. We recently entered into a settlement with the
company that requires all non-US citizens a [Indiscernible]
document. Again not allowing the employee to choose their
document from the list of acceptable documents.
>>We also see quite a bit of mishandling of [Indiscernible]
which is something that comes up quite a bit. They will get a letter from
their insurance provider of from a bank this issue have an
employee whose name is Social Security number do not match.
What should an employer do? What an employer should not do is
presumed that that employ is an authorizer undocumented. And then immediately terminate
them. That’s not what the employer should do. They should
notify the employee of this letter and get that employ a
reasonable period of time to resolve the mismatch. Many times
mismatches are caused by Ms. spellings, digits that were input incorrectly, so
you should not presume that the person is not authorized to
work. You should make sure you’re treating everybody, in
that treating people differently because of not US citizens in
this process. They are treating non-US
citizens differently than US citizens.
>>Those are some of the most common violations that we see.
The general take-home message that I would emphasize, this is
a context where going above and beyond into a
more than what is required in terms of the form can really get
you in serious problems. If an employer is asking for
more documents, I want to make sure, that they are not
undocumented. You want a real risk of engaging in discrimination.
So the form tells you exactly what to do. If you start
deviating from that, you run the risk of engaging in
discrimination. >>What are the fines?
>>The fines vary depending upon the type of violation. One
incident of documentary abuse where you ask a particular
individual for a document because of their citizenship or
immigration status. The fine range for that one incident is
now $178 $178-$1700 roughly . It recently changed. For that
one violation, that is the range. So if an employer is
engaging and a practice of this type of discrimination you can
do the math. It can become very costly very quickly.
>> If you forget everything that
I’ve said, this is the most important thing to remember. [Indiscernible] operates a
hotline for employers and employees. It operates Monday to
Friday 9 AM to go 5 PM. The numbers
are on the screen. You can call with any questions you have.
Work authorization documents, and employers call us to ask
whether certain documents are accessible or not. We get calls
from employees saying that their employers are
rejecting valid documents. If you have a general question, I’d
urge you to give us a call. It’s much better to ask on the
front end than making the error on the backend. And his
appoint for intervention, many times what happens is an
employee will call us up and will say I have PPS. I know that
my automatic, I know it has been
automatically extended but my employer is not accepting that.
They are insisting on me presenting a new EAD and I don’t
have one. I haven’t received it. So with the employees
permission but we would do is contact the employer. We will
explain to the employer what the employee is going through. We will
explain about the register noticed it’s been published and
many times for people to resolve the
situation, the employee is able to get back to work and many
times received back pay without a full-blown investigation. Is a
quick and easy way to resolve the situation. And then the last
slide, it’s a list of some of our
resources. The hotline number, our webpage, email address, and
our address as well. >>Roberto, you have done
webinars and trainings. >>Right. The office has these
webinars that are some cured for employers and some geared for
employees and advocates. They are free and they are on our
website. They are helpful tools to understand the process and
understand what is expected and it’s good helpful information to
avoid discrimination. We definitely encourage you. — To
reach out to us. >>Have you taken complaints
recently? >> We have seen an uptick. One of
the things that remains constantly high for us is the
unfair documentary practice. It is a very common issue. I
will give you another example of a very common unfair
documentary practice. People verifying lawful
permanent records. As many of you know, permanent resident
cars should not be verified. Just like a passport. Terminate
resident cards don’t need to be. Many sophisticated employers
get this wrong. They will see the green card and they think and they will think they have
to read verify. There will as the employee for the document.
These two documents can be very expensive. The employee may not
have it. And that is a fair of unfair documentary practice.
You’re asking for a document that’s more than what’s
required. And so it is a potential
violation. We entered into a settlement agreement last year
over this very issue where they ended up paying more than
$300,000 for this type of practice.
Those types of issues we’ve seen a very common.
>>A quick follow-up. I think I heard you say you may
be able to do interventions in some circumstances. One thing we
do see in our shop is where the customer has a work alteration
— authorization card approved and then it gets lost in the
mail or something. So it’s been approved and everyone knows it’s
been issued, they’re looking to read verify. Would you be able to intervene
in a scenario like that to establish that the person’s work
authorized? I just want to be clear on that.
>>We will follow the form. We always follow that rule. For
example, when somebody has [Indiscernible] and it’s
automatically extended to the Frederick — Federal Register, we will explain that to the
employee. An individual does not have the work authorization
forms there does that are required and they
don’t have the receipt, then there’s nothing we can do. We
will never tell an employer, I know the role say one thing but you can take the employees word
for it. We won’t give that advice. We go with law form
roles and the instructions that apply to that form. Many times
was happening is the employer is just off following .
>>The other thing I would say is even though it’s not
employment, we sometimes help workers West [Indiscernible]
issues. The incident that you were describing, the worker who
had [Indiscernible] automatically extended but the
DMV doesn’t understand this . They don’t understand the
Federal Register notice. So we will sometimes, if an employee
needs help, we will explain to the DMV the role and more often than not that
resolves the problem and the driver’s licenses renewed.
>> This is something that happens
at the point that employment is offered and once you started the
over documentation process, you’re guilty. So you make the decision that more
information is really important. Half of the companies
I look at have that problem.>>It’s a big issue that we see.>> Allen, what about
[Indiscernible] for compliance? >>I think E-Verify is on the
Verizon. You might as well embrace it. They’re having a pop — they’ve
had problems with E-Verify in the past. The real issue from my point of
view to my employer, you’re going to have to use E-Verify or
the right way. You notifying the government so what’s
happened is some almost are doing well and then drop off. What
that does is it sends an electronic message that somebody
needs to be visited by ICE . How do they match up? It’s
really something about having a good understanding. The main
issue that I want to talk about is the great divide between the
bubble and the rest of the United States. Everyone, every
employer is not linked to the Internet. Everyone is not
sitting by the computer all day. They are not able to do the
E-Verify process. When you move away from the
regional cities into agricultural areas and places
where people don’t have access, we need to make sure that
everyone’s available. >> Moving off the statement of
E-Verify’s in the future, we do have a new administration coming
in and certainly it’s not the position are not appropriate for
any of the federal staff to make speculations of how policies are going. So
far as the private sector, how are you advising your clients?
What are you keeping your finger on the pulse of for your clients to be
competitive. >> I know speculation is not your
friends. We can speculate. We as a company are monitoring the
immigration and what Congress and President-elect Trump is
thinking about. I was in a meeting with Casey from Senator Ryan’s
office and one of her things was we need to continue to educate
Congress on the new administration and whether
shortfalls are. I’m going to focus on
identifying that and getting the rest — the reporting statistics in
order so you can provide that information is needed was the
new administration does take over. Get involved with your office’s
public policy. There are organizations out there that
monitor the immigration platform .
>>For me, since I’m an attorney and going
to practice the law. Therefore, outside of what may have
changed, I think promises were made that were
not fulfilled or a beat — are able to become accomplished. That’s something to watch for.
I think the concern that a lot of people have is to have an
understanding of what happens immediately and what cannot
happen immediately. The concern about [Indiscernible], some
people take six months to back out of their training. They are talking about changing H1B . What should be at the concern
level is what you see day-to-day with the roles. You don’t want
to be the one [Indiscernible] caught up in the crosshairs because you didn’t do your
compliance a right way. If you’re going to participate in
these programs and you know scrutiny is coming from the the
law and order administration, you want to make sure you don’t
everything on your part to make sure your compliant and that you
have everything in order and are doing everything the proper
way. This is already started. In addition to that, when you’re
filing a new petition because that’s the window for someone’s
adjudication, it is 1000 stacks of paper now.
You need to put everything end. if you don’t put it in, that
exacerbates your energy. >>[Indiscernible — low volume] [Laughter]
>> One of my main concerns is for
the employer. Equity among the adjudication of cases is that
Apple started in someone’s garage. I’ve got the H1B for the
lottery and now I get a H1B for [Indiscernible]. His 11
pages of why I’m not going to approve
this for you because you’re a small company. Getting the denial that says
you can go to the small business administration [Indiscernible
— low volume] Is really not an answer. There should be some
focus on the adjudication and that’s where they fall out of
line about if the company is viable
or not. If you’re a Fortune 500, [Indiscernible] but if you’re a
new company and you get that H1B , there’s really no numbers
on that input. >> One thing I can say to that, we
really try to educate our adjudicators are not just
looking at the company is small. We have instituted a number of
entrepreneurial programs to track that. Entrepreneurs are usually
running small businesses. We are working towards it and
obviously we need to work harder. [Indiscernible — low
volume] >>I think that question of how
do you refine the process to better identify the employers
that are petitioning, how do you find the process is to better
serve and respond to the foreign national seeking the benefit. I
think that something that Fred has done a good job in our
office of keeping an ear to the public and to hear people’s
requests for assistance as well as working in collaboration with
USCIS to find a solution to either big problems are tiny
problems that will make the processes and resources apply
better. Fred, can you talk about what they plan to work on for
the next year? >>We’ve got this transition
occurring. Our ombudsman is leaving the office in the next
month or so. And then we have the new administration coming in
probably under acting leadership. We’re going
to focus mainly on process in the next year or so. Not on
policy matters but on process. We don’t really know where the best application of
resources will be on policy so we are looking on process.
Particularly we are looking at multinational executives and
national interest waivers. And look at the question of can
premium processing be implemented in those lines.
Right now normal processing our six, seven, eight months
long. Relative to other petitions which are in a four or
five month range. There is no premier processing available for
those. So it’s something we’re looking at. The current practices that adjudicate the I-140 and
after his adjudicated and is transferred to the 45 unit this
and doing the adjustment of status. We are looking at why that was
changed and if we should go back to
that. Gain some efficiency just in
terms of the use in time. That’s what we have on our radar. Of
course other matters my pop-up as we see AC 21 and its
implementation will be something we will be tracking. What comes out of there, policy
work or something else but for now those are the two items
>>That super important because of the new medical expiration
date which increases the processing time. [Indiscernible — low volume]
>> Which could stress a concurrent
file case out to of the 15 month range and it doesn’t need
to be that long. >>We need to look at why the
change was made to sequential processing. What challenges
might exist or were gains could be made in moving it back.
>> I think I would like to open up
to questions from the audience if people are writing to ask
questions. There are not microphones that — Fred has
one. >> Are there any media questions
from the audience? >> Sunday there was a mention
about the stem OPG role coming out. One of the new requirements of
the training program. Can you talk a little bit about how that
affected your company’s handling of the new role?
>>Sure. As a professional services [Indiscernible] and
apprenticeship model. People attempt to go up the ranks. We
have training programs for all of our employees. With this new
role, we had to create training programs for all of our
[Indiscernible]. Each school seems to require
something a little bit different. We have to create a form and do
that for all of them. Each University is a little
different. We have tried to standardize what we will provide
. If the University doesn’t have those requirements, it’s quite
time-consuming. To go through this process. We are considering
asking our foreign nationals and maybe you can weigh in on
this. >>
[Laughter] [Multiple Speakers] >> Basically were saying these are
your responsibilities and you need to let your university know
if you labor company. And we need to outline what their
responsibilities are. It is a challenge to keep track and
always know when someone decides to leave in a large company it may take longer than 10 days
for me to explain. You are quite familiar with the
requirements and quite familiar with how the regulation plays
out. Is your intern there for 90 days aware of it?
How are they best informed>>[Indiscernible — low volume]>> Hopefully they are informed
enough to adequately respond. >>[Indiscernible — low volume] >>They want to be the top of
their game. >> Did you see a trend with
employers employing students with a [Indiscernible] status?
>> Specific to discrimination in
that context. They are outside of the norm. That something that occurred so
much on a concerned level. >>I would imagine in some ways,
not discriminatory but not knowing. And so I think that
[Indiscernible] a large entity that has a fair amount of
resources that they can apply. They have quite a few
participants within that OPG program versus a smaller
employer who maybe has one or two people and might not know
the full formal steps for issues down the line.
>> We have a large [Indiscernible]
that supports our foreign nationals and that’s all we do. Have someone dedicated to focus
on this. >>Thank you. Recently the
policy and strategy released I should say USCIS release an
update on the policy manual . Fred, you keep track with our
[Indiscernible] stakeholders. Any comments to the policy that
you would like to make? >>First I would like to give a
shout out to the agency for putting that out. It was a hard
left to integrate all the policies into a single document.
I had a chance to read through it and it’s quite well-written.
Almost all the issues very clearly and it’s fantastic. There were
couple of spots I thought they could use some clarification.
The stakeholders may be interested in that. It was open for a two-week
period and issued a week ago. It does have about one week left
of public comment. I believe it’s effective upon issuance.
Are the agency’s open to taking those comments? Stakeholders
have told us they are looking for further
guidance on clarification for redeployment of funds in the
sustaining the investment. — Requirement under the law. I
have not heard anything from the stakeholders yet and it’s only
been a week. It is a welcome piece of work.
>> Do you guys typically get a lot
of comments on [Indiscernible] to get published in the policy
manual? >>We probably get our fair
share. We will have to wait and see. I haven’t kept track.
>> The program as we all know, us
to practice in the area or have scope in that zone, has
been one that’s been under a lot of scrutiny on the hill.
There’s a lot of lobbying going around on the program. Serious
questions of integrity in the program. Make sure the program
does what we can do [Indiscernible — low volume]
>>There is a lot of issues that need to be resolved and
Congress touches this. They keep trying to do something with it
but then they don’t seem to get it resolved. Is coming up for
renewal, the regional center program.
>> It’s up for sunset on the
ninth. Which is also our funding , overall funding . We look forward to seeing what
they do with the program and we will try to deal with it
in the next Congress. It will be interesting to see.
>>[Indiscernible — low volume] >>Did you have a question?
[Indiscernible — speaker too far from mic] >>As long as the moon — move
doesn’t require the filing of a new form, —
>>The question was within the same Metropolitan statistical
area or distance within that whether a new filing is required
. The answer is no. If there’s not a new LCA
required, there’s no amendment. >>[Indiscernible — speaker too
far from mic] >> That went in a different
direction than I thought it would.
>> This is a practical answer and
not the answer you want. You would need to hire more people
than required so you have ample people at the time. That extra
employment — assuming it’s a direct filing. Make sure you had
extra. If you did everything
appropriately, why is that investor not given the benefit
of the doubt. Even with E-Verify there are cases of usage that
makes it through the system. >>A safe harbor carveout would make sense. Something to
address that issue. If the employer is required to consider
those documents, if they’re required to take
those, they should be permitted to use those as a defense.
>>But that’s something that should probably be made
exclusive to distinguish the question.
>> When an employer is evaluating,
what he chooses for work authorization
purposes, did this document lead to this individual? Is this
reasonably relates to this person that’s the standard to ask.>>They don’t expect employers
to be experts. And do a forensic analysis.
What I’ve heard them say —
>>[Indiscernible — low volume]
>> I think this is certainly
something we can take back. >>These three employees,
they’re not verified. >>
[Indiscernible — speaker too far from mic]
>> E-Verify mate be there only friend —
E-Verify may be their only French right now.
>> — Their only friend right now.>>
[Indiscernible — speaker too far from mic]
>>>>The second question was in
reflection of the executive memo , executive order giving an
option and the final rule that came
out, what considerations were made during that time to address
generously the [Indiscernible].
>>We saw a lot of comments on that, obviously. There are two
issues there I think. You can still get adjust status
to permanent resident — resident. In that regard, you
want to get the I-140 approved. I can go work somewhere else and
then it becomes current and you can file. We want to issue it
in the INA. In order for there to be a
valid job offer, [Indiscernible — low volume] If you don’t have
a job offer from the previous employee — employer, the law
constricts that. As far as the that are AD, — EAD , what
circumstance would give you a few examples. There is a balancing act there
also. There’s a program in place, and I know there’s a long
wait for everything. There’s a limit issue in the law. All countries only have 7%. As
far as — if we did that, we wouldn’t have employer
sponsoring anybody.>>We totally understand that.
There are other things in there that would help you. Not
revoking, 180 days. The AC 21 extension and then
the [Indiscernible], there are other things you put in there.
All of that stuff trying to mitigate some of that. People
are confined by the law in some way.>>
[Indiscernible — speaker too far from mic]
>> Everything is up in the air
right now. It depends on what happens in the next
administration. It was a result of pressure from stakeholders
ever request to government. Keep doing it. When you hear other
individuals saying we should have less immigration we should
look — educate them on why they think that. Right now we don’t
know was going to happen in the next administration.
>> One of the ways that we try and
give a voice to people like yourselves, I think it’s important for you
to be able to speak directly to our office. The foreign national as well as
the employer influences how policies are written and how
regulations are drafted. The common. Of course is an
important place to put your voice forward. For our
office, what we try to do is post teleconferences. We always
open those up. I know it might not be as satisfying, but it
definitely [Indiscernible] we have tried
to get an opportunity for people to have their voice heard. To
be honest, I would be happy to have someone with a worker’s
perspective on the panel of mine. Is definitely not an issue
that’s ever closed off, I think it’s just difficult when the
issues come down to your congressional act or limitations
by what is currently in law, the question is, what can we
talk about. What are constructive things that we can
try to move forward? That is where and looking at ways to
find options within the current laws, ways to educate your employers, educate your
staff, educate your colleagues so that the laws are upheld in
an appropriate and correct way. Also become engaged. Go to your representatives,
state-level local level federal level that is where were out. That is
what we can do. And so the laws have changed. I think one more
question. >>
[Captioners transitioning] >> [ Indiscernible – Participant
too far away from the mic ] we are starting to get a green
card, that is a valid job offer of the law says, once you get a
green card to a classification, there’s no national interest waiver. You have to get the labor
certification. As far as we don’t want nobody to get Tracy
or anything like that just put in the it would just work
against a lot what we have in place that’s what the law says
that the sponsor individuals. So it was much deliberation. It
was an easy thing, there are a lot of
people involved and that’s where it came out.
>>[ Indiscernible – Participant too far away from the mic ]
>> Why would you do anything to
change that? >>[ Indiscernible – Participant
too far away from the mic ]
>> The people have rights.
>>[ Indiscernible – Participant too far away from the mic ]
>>This puts you at a disadvantage in the marketplace.
>>[ Indiscernible – multiple speakers ]
>>[ Indiscernible – Participant too far away from the mic ]
>> So you say we should put an end
to the program so US workers — Indiscernible ]
>>A lot of it stems from the background that’s why you’re
waiting so long. We need to get more visa numbers.
>>This is not because of visas. You are say, tran1
>>Then you are saying people are here, [ Indiscernible –
Participant too far away from the mic ]
>>Okay. >>People have approved, [ Indiscernible –
Participant too far away from the mic ]
>>We are not saying that. >> So — sir? Sir? Okay. I appreciate the
comments, it is important it is an open forum it’s an
opportunity to voice opinion. There is no more time for
questions. I would say a few things, the difference between
the AC 21 regulation is that is a permanent change with
executive orders such as DACA those are temporary and are
things that are able to be done with an order, versus having
actual regulations changed it goes back to my original
statement before was that being involved with your community,
Congress, contact in the offices that are making these changes,
contacting USCIS, contacting their
representatives on the Hill is an opportunity to get your horse
to be heard and to have changed occur in the future.
>>[ Indiscernible – Participant too far away from the mic ]
>> It is totally useless.
>>Okay. >>Sir? Okay. Thank you for your
comments. >>The last thing I would say,
if there is if people have information about
discrimination, against the citizens, employers that are
hiring visa workers, just to abuse them, and discriminating
against US workers, that something that would violate the statute that the office
enforces. So we want to know about that.
>>I want to thank the panelists for participating your I want
to thank our audience for participating. Some of the
panelists will stick around afterwards to field some
questions thank you for joining us today.
>>[ Applause ]
>> Who here works for the federal
government? >>Who here works for workers rights? Any issues on the hill? Any law
enforcement? >> Thank you. Are we good to go in the room?
>>I am an immigration law analysts with assistantship
services ombudsman I thank you for joining, thanks to the
panelists for joining us. As you may know some of you over the
past year we have participating and facilitating intra-agency
engagements with both employers abuse and employer human trafficking organizations,
migrant rights organization, and we look that how we can find opportunities to both
strength and protection for foreign workers and temporary
workers while creating a fair playing field for employers to
follow the rules and for workers. We wrote about these
efforts in our report last year and we have been continuing them
through engagement with federal partners and with folks in the
field most recently, in October stakeholder meeting that we had
with some of you that are here today.
>>Today we will hear from some of the other folks and partners
that participate in this work and are part of these
conversations, you will hear a small presentation from each of
them about the scope of their work, working on these issues,
and at the end we will hear from the law center about their
work, and about how this all came together.
>>I think we are for from employers, stakeholders who
expressed concern about the negative impact and regulations and regulatory
burdens as the temporary worker program place on their business,
because it is challenging for them to find workers to fill
their employment needs for agriculture and non-agriculture.
>>We have for from workers rights and a tight human
trafficking organizations regarding vulnerabilities, the
same workers in the population, we will hear about these
concerns today. Some of you are familiar with the March 2015
Government accountability office report on the program, on the visa
program, increase protections are needed for foreign workers
which detail the concerns. In January 2016 DHS came out with a
report that highlighted the need to improve information
sharing between federal agencies particularly when the
department to identify human trafficking cases including
temporary visas, so this is the place
where we have scenarios when existing protections do not
work. Temporary workers or employers that are following the
rules, had we move forward? >>This conversation and the
information that will be shared is an important way to move
forward and identify some solutions. I’m excited to gauge
in this discussion. We have
representatives from across the federal government and the
public private sector, each panelist will share a brief
overview of their work with some power points and we will open
it up for Russians and answers if we have time at the end. As
always if you have questions you’re welcome to contact me or
the office, and we can help facilitate the conversation.
>>You have everybody’s biographies, I will do an
overview. Jennifer is the policy analyst with USCIS, this is a foreign
workers division and she focuses on programs for temporary
workers and students and government officials.
>>Sitting next to her is the branch chief for the foreign
labor within the department of procedures for wage and hours division.
>>Jeff is next to him the supervisory Special Agent
overseeing the FBI trafficking program, Elizabeth is a subject
matter expert on visas within the CIF office of policy.
>>And we have the legal director at the Southern poverty
Law Center. The Council for immigrant workers. Which one of
the largest cases brought in the US resulting in a $14 million jury verdict.
>>Please join me in welcoming each of them. I will turn to
Jennifer for an overview of USCIS role in the programs and
the current efforts to enhance front and protection with DHS.
>> Thank you for sticking around
for this last panel. We think the program is pretty important,
there’s a lot of people on this panel and my overview will be
brief. >>The program is H2 a visa and
age to be, H2 A is the temporary seasonal worker, and the classification
allows US employers to bring four nationals to the US to fill agricultural needs. The H2 B is
similar except that is non-agricultural workers and
there are different ways to qualify for temporary peak load. Also this differs
from H2 a that is a On the program at 66 at 66,000 we published the count
on our website and we can find that on the website. Both pieces have an
eligible contributor list and that is a lesson shown to be in
the US it just H2B to be approved for
nationalist countries that the secretary of Homeland security
with the concurrence of the secretary of state has that they
did as participating countries we published this list once per
year and you can find this on the Federal Register.
>>The state the limitation is three years once worker hits the
three years they have to go outside the US for three months
to restart the clock the status may be granted for the maximum
period of time authorize on a temporary certification. The
process is a three-step process begins with Department of Labor,
the employer files a temporary a vacation application and the
source of the nonbinding advice from certifying among other
things they are not sufficient US workers able willing
qualified and available for the temporary position and the
employment will not adversely affect the ways workers are
employed. Once the petitioner has gone the approved TLC than
they can file the petition for nonimmigrant worker and they are stepping up
the process the worker presents US Embassy abroad or if they do
not require one these at the present the port of entry.
>>The beneficiaries on a petition may be named or
unnamed, and multiple beneficiaries on each petition are permitted. In such a case
where there is a single I want 29 with multiple beneficiaries
the beneficiaries — such beneficiaries must show
they are perform the same services for the same period of time.
>>Going back to the eligible country list if the beneficiary
is not one the list the beneficiary must be name. Going
over some protections, for workers,
the first item I want to mention is prohibited fees, they are any
fees that are imposed as a condition of H2 a or workers
employment or conditions, it’s a
compensation from the beneficiary of the condition of
their employment, in all cases yesterday will look at all of
fax and take into consideration the worker’s educational level
timing of the agreement, nature of the fees and the bargaining
power of the worker. >>We look for whether the
worker has a meaningful opportunity to decline to pay or
have that the amounts without a reasonable fear of adverse
consequences. >>If we find that a petitioner
has paid the prohibitive fees, the petition may be denied or go unnoticed. If a petition has
been revoked and H2 beneficiary will be authorized to say in the
US for 30 days without accruing any unlawful presence. During
the 30 days the beneficiary may depart from the US or maybe
requesting an extension of state based on the subsequent offer
of employment. >>Debarment is another
consequence that can come from paying — failure to pay, and
upon the department USCIS may deny any provision that filed by
the petition for nonimmigrant status for a period of one year
but not more than five years. >>Other general protections
that are employers are obligated to provide include verifying
the identity of employment authorization, and other things such is not
discriminating against individuals based on the basis
of the national origin or immigration status.
>>You can see there’s a number of different consequences that
may occur from violating those laws.
>>We also recognize there are some circumstances that are
beyond the control of the worker or employers such as a flood or
severe storms or things of that nature, we offer a range of immigration release, we also
notify the stakeholders of these benefits on our website and
through different notices.
>>There are challenges in the protection for H2 nonimmigrants.
We are aware of the recruiters scenarios we know that workers
pay prohibitive fees in order to secure jobs, Wilson of the
sometimes recruiters are imposters and they are
representing a work place that is not there or fail to
misrepresent the terms and condition of the opportunity.
>> We understand there’s a lot of
disincentives to report this abuse by the H2 nonimmigrant.
Some of these are listed appear. — Here.
>>What to do when you believe that a petition is using the
absconder inbox as a means to violate workers so was right. When the petitioner
use of the regulatory requirement that petitioners
notified USCIS to threaten the beneficiary who may wish to
change employers legally or to be the worksite due to poor
conditions or trafficking. >>Prior to taking any actions,
USCIS determines whether a worker has left the country is
not valid immigration status or its allies not authorized to
remain in the US. If USCIS cannot make that determination
will keep such information in the system. Also we want to know
the H2 workers who believe their rights are being violated
by their employers or recruiters may call the human trafficking
resource Center and/or contact the civil rights division.
>>Other challenges that we face, we have a direct threat
that will look into this, the broad protection for national
security, and also the service center there are officers that
specialize in fraud detection.
>>You have worked to improve the program? Earlier this year
we have introduced H2A mailers we begin issuing a payment was
provided by [ Indiscernible ] for H2A only this is a change
from standard processing and USCIS service centers which
normally uses prepaid mailers.
>>Now that petitioners can submit to prepaid mailers if
they want to ask but very but the receipt notice in the final
decision notice, we issued clarifying guidance in April on
the website you can find what we consider H2B we would like to know this
was in response to the stakeholder inquiries we really
didn’t change any of the policies or anything like that
it was just too your folks more transparency into the standards.
>>Also we cooperate closely with the interagency partners,
we participate international labor recruitment working group
and we work with them to find constructive ways to prevent
labor recruitment violations in the program, we welcome feedback from folks, we welcome feedback and it’s not on the
slide but one way to submit feedback that we can consider is
through our public engagement website, the email is here.
>>We also cooperate with the OS on the approvals which is we’ve
been sending approval information for citizens to be
the next business day, this process is intended to make the
process more efficient for customers and to provide more
efficiency and transparency in transmitting information.
>>One last thought many of USDS customers have been contacting
us with questions regarding current immigration programs,
and future policy, we continue to process all applications and
request consistent with the current statutory laws and
regulations and policies, we cannot comment what sorts of
policies the incoming administration may choose to
prioritize, but we do remain focused on the mission to
administer laws and to provide a high level of service to our
customers. >>Thank you. We will have Jim
join us and share about the work that he does at the Department
of Labor which sometimes comes into play once in worker
beneficiary is here in US. Working for the employer.
>>Thank you. Good afternoon hello. I appreciate the
opportunity to be coming here and participate in the panel, blood sugar levels
are low and I only have 188 slides.
>>The wage our mission, is to promote and
achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance
the welfare of the nation’s workforce.
>> Wage and hour offices across
the country a lot of dots on the map, the workers are all about
making sure the working people in the US receive a fair day’s
wage for a hard days work. We do this by
enforcing a federal label laws many of which you should be
familiar with, the fair labor standards act, child labor, the
family medical leave act the migrant cultural act, the
Davis-Bacon act, etc., however the task with
this even though that map has always thoughts on this is
daunting, there are over 7.3 million covered businesses in
the US, with 133 million covered workers. For which we have
fewer than 1000 investigators to go out and investigate so
simply put, wage and hours never going to have enough
investigators relative to the number of workplaces that we
cover. So we do a lot of work and resources into prioritizing
and strategically planning our work.
>>But even with those limited resources, we done a lot so were
protected over the last eight years, 1.7 million workers, with
collected over $1.6 billion in back wages. And I can translate
to for a security guard, maybe 2.5 paychecks with the average
back which finding of $1000, or it can buy 85.5 weeks of worth
of groceries. We put all the statistics on our website I
think like everybody else would seem transparency would put our
conclude investigation data online so this is by statute
which would include 28 were identified by industries, we do
number of investigations back wages, number of employees
affected, penalties assessed, and the number of outreach
events that we conducted. So to leverage our
resources and achieve compliance we spent time doing
education outreach to employers, not only for the academia but I spent time joined at the hip
with my colleagues at the office of fire labor certification,
doing presentations on these we have partnerships with over 300
stakeholders to promote and achieve and I will point out one
thing here and in my notes, with all our efforts with this, wage hour enforces
worker protections under laws, without regard to immigration
status. >>All the workers in the US in
our view regardless of their immigration status have the
right to a safe and healthy workplace and full payment of
the wages due under federal statute for them.
>>Threats of deportation, they can be one form of exerting coercion, so the dust
in the a nexus between immigration status and
vulnerability, where working proactively to reach immigrant
worker communities we have partnership agreements with 11
foreign embassies, to help them get information about worker
rights to the nationalist working in the US.
>>We also conduct enforcement actions or investigations, these
actions may be directed or complaint based wage hour we
don’t disclose the basis for the investigation to the employer
we don’t tell them we are there for a complaint or not, with a
directed investigation, what I was talking about earlier about
prior authorization, we really focus on the national level and
regional level on industries that employ vulnerable workers.
>>For the complaint based investigations complaints are
confidential, we tried to be responsive to complaints, what we do we have limited resources
so often we are going to look at that complaint through the
prism of strategic enforcement. I can tell you for H2A and H2B
all investigations are directed we get very few complaints, they
are talking about H1B everything for H1B is
different we have to have a complaint from the aggrieved
party or credible source, in order to conduct an investigation.
>>With the complaint information up online.
>>I’m not going to talk about the investigation process that’s
— going to talk about our strategic enforcement efforts.
We look at this in connection with workers at risk employment,
and relationships with would include purported independent
contractors, we look at low-wage workers and that includes
agricultural, hospitality, hotel motel, restaurant, janitorial,
temporary help and others. That’s what we look
at as far as enforcement. >>One of the questions that
Rachel gave me before we came was after one enters a country
when this wage hour interact with them?
>>We may not. Our colleagues at the office of certification
issues thousands of certifications per year for far
greater numbers of workers than that, our number of
investigations are far fewer than that so it’s likely that H1B workers are coming in and
never going to see a wage and hour investigation so once they
left CBP in the process, they may not see anybody else from
the government until they are ready to exit the country again.
>>Wage hour and labor trafficking, in the field of trafficking, one thing I
really have to point out is that wage hours have no specific
authority, to investigate or prosecute.
>>Part of this for us we will focus on the distinction between
labor exploitation and that’s the mistreatment of workers in
violation of civil rights, as opposed to labor trafficking
which adds the elements of force and fraud or conversion and
that becomes a criminal offense. We know that some of the same
vulnerabilities that exposed the worker to force fraud or
conversion exposes them to the same violations of several labor
laws like the filler standards act like a market protection
act, and of course 2A and 2B and we know
that labor exploitation can take the form of wage violations
under the fair labor standard act might be child labor, but
all these things represent overlapping areas of concern
about labor trafficking. Through our
efforts to enforce the statute entrusted to us, and alongside
our partners were combating trafficking, we think, we are
moving the dial to address the underlying conditions and causes
for labor trafficking. >>What we need to understand is
the relationship a little better, and we need to galvanize
support for our civil efforts, our rolling counter traffic
space is primarily one of support to the law-enforcement
partners, wage and hours and Department of Labor office of
Inspector General, we participate in the six
anti-coordination teams, where members of DOJ Bureau of Justice
assistance for task force, because wage hour investigators
are in worksites across the country every day, we are
uniquely positioned to help identify potential cases in the
course of our regular investigation and make referrals
to our law enforcement partners. But again we don’t
have any direct authority to prosecute labor trafficking.
What we do is let our expertise to calculate restitution and
back wages for workers that have been found to labor trafficking.
>>We deliver trafficking identification and referral
training to all our investigators, we have updated
and enhance the training and we are requiring them all to take
it again now so when the investigators go on site and
they are conducting the regular investigation and they detect
signs of a trafficking they know how to react and look what
portables to follow as far as making referrals they are aware
of the hotline card but they also have instructions not to
offer the hotline card if they think that is going to be any
type of reprisal they’re not going to walk that card in front
of the employer while they are talking to the worker.
>>Were also engaged with new visas since 2011, and with TVs
is since 2015, these are relatively
new to us for new visas we will for
qualifying criminal activity that arises in the context of
the work environment and there’s a
credible allegation of a violation of a law that wage
hour enforces, and that we detect the violations of any one
of the eight qualifying criminal activities, and that
the petitioner has demonstrated that he or she has been to be
helpful in law enforcement activities in the investigation
or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity. So for similar we look
to see if there’s been a severe form of trafficking detected
that trafficking activity has arisen in the context of the
work environment and that is a credible allegation of a
violation of wage hour enforcement your
>>I don’t have this on the screen but we have all this
information on the website. What I will add with that with the use and the tease is
that we don’t actually do the certification we work with the
Subpart B we give that subpart B back to the petitioner for them
to provide to USCIS. >>Lastly I should note that wage and hour is not
the only agency within the Department of Labor that
supports the government’s efforts around combating
trafficking, the colleagues at the employment of training
administration provides employment and training services
across the country through the network of 2400 American job
centers the colleagues at the international labor affairs
Bureau maintain a list of goods and source countries that we
have reason to believe are made with forced labor or forest
indentured child labor and we provide technical assistance the
emergence to come back to work form of child labor overseas.
>>The office of Inspector General and biggest —
investigates the course everybody else’s noted in recent
amount of time interacting with our colleagues at various
components at state whether it’s counselor or CIS with various
components where we have services, and what I’ve seen
over the past four years as I think the relationship has
improved this a lot more discussion and exchange of
information. >>Thank you.
>>Thank you. Jim mentioned being a partner to law
enforcement and I am very excited to have an agent with the FBI
with us today, to talk about their efforts to address labor
trafficking in the field.
>> Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure
to be here to share with you and to learn so much from my fellow
contacts, as mentioned earlier I am with the civil rights unit
within the civil rights unit we cover human trafficking we
oversee task forces nationwide, as you can see from the graphic, and our human
trafficking program is broken down into three specific
categories, sex labor domestic service to. Kind of wonder why
sex trafficking is large, reason behind that is have task forces
that work with local partners and we’ve gotten pretty good
over the last several years of identifying it and proactively
seeking out where sex trafficking and this. If you look at this
you can find this on the Internet, to go out and find on
a local track Street within a small town, and hotels and
motels, when it comes to labor trafficking, it’s difficult
because the victims are insulated, they are unwilling to
come forward and share their story with law enforcement
primarily because of the fear of being deported and sent back
home. And of living in a foreign territory whether it be an
abuse and they don’t know how far they — the abuse runs and
if we can be involved so because of that it’s incredibly
difficult to get these victims to come forward and the training
with our agents across the country they have been proactive
in the last several years and through no fault of their own,
just by nature of the cases pretty good at the sex
trafficking but we still have to wait somewhat to get to the
civil labor trafficking for the victims or families to come
through in two wage complaints, for knowledge we cover as far as
the investigation goes, the statute for labor trafficking is
18 1889 which essentially says providing were benefiting
through forced labor from forced labor
or services through forced cord and or threats.
>>What we have identified through our past and the
additions and decided to do is let’s move forward and be
proactive with finding these victims because it’s right
there in our backyard we are doing this with such trafficking
we have the task force is in place and partnerships let’s
merge out and start to look specifically for the labor
traffic this is the initiative the mission of our initiative,
quite frankly, I’ve highlighted the strategic outreach, through
the intelligence that I will go through And a gain of a better
understanding what’s going on in the area of responsibility what
you refer to as the AO are an agent’s hometowns, in the field
offices FBI has 56 field offices nationwide within those field
offices, we can have sometimes up to a different satellite
offices. So chances are there’s an FBI agent nearby where ever a
labor trafficking incident is occurring.
>>Step number one, that we want to push
out to the field is the enhanced intelligence
collaboration, it’s identifying the holders of vulnerable visas
this is something we do from headquarters side, I’m across
the street at the very building we have intelligence analyst
that are great we have access to a lot of databases that we need
to share with the field, so with the field they reach out to
us and we put together these collaboratives and we
query the different databases and we map and we prioritize for
the follow-up going back to old cases, we’ve identified these
as being the vulnerable visas, where putting
the intelligence together, it is by to look back and go to our
adjudicated cases these are cases have been adjudicated
through the courts, so by matters of a trial by jury, or
through agreements we went back to identify the victims in our
prior cases, so these are the vulnerable visas we’ve identified and we decided to
focus on for the purpose of our labor trafficking initiative.
>>This is somewhat it looks like, I’m sure you have seen
this stuff, that the FBI is famous for we rely on Google
maps. So it is not pretty but effective. This is the St. Louis
area, St. Louis is participating, right now we
have a total of 36 field offices of the 56 participating, it’s
voluntary on their part, and sometimes you may ask, why they are not, sometimes it’s based
upon asset resources, why that office cannot provide the necessary resources.
>>This is St. Louis, what we have done is we’ve identified
where the majority of the visa holders are, it is pretty easy,
there it is right there in downtown St. Louis, with that,
we can go in even greater rely on the Google map technology and
look at the clusters of individuals and the visa holders
with that specific area, we can go even further than this, down
to the individuals we can find out their names, where they are
staying, who the business is. >>That gives our agents in the
field an understanding that not that
these individuals are being exploited but there is a
potential that exists in their backyard and where to start
looking, so with that moves into our second phase which is the
strategic outreach, it’s increasing awareness we all
though she we have quick reference cars that was
indicators of the labor trafficking in this is based on
the research of historic and trafficking investigations this
is through discussing with our partners and the Department of Labor DOJ, State Department,
indicators that we have seen that are necessary to ask the
field and connect outreach to the regulatory agencies.
>>These are quick references. We give these to our agents, we
order thousands of them we send them out to the participating
offices and is there opportunity now that you know who are the
potential honorable holders within their backyard now they
can go out and hand out the cards, these are simple
indicators the agents can put their name on there, they can
hand them out to businesses in the local community, any
individuals that they think that the visa holders may be
interacting with they can give it to the specific visa holders
themselves, without if it doesn’t permit any harm to those
holders, what we have found is these have been incredibly
important in allowing the ages to get out and meet community
members, they give presentations we provide them with
PowerPoint, and the training to go out and speak to the public,
specific groups if they need to speak to so with that and with
these cards, it’s a great opportunity to let them know
that this is what we are here to do, it exists, it is right there
under our noses, here are some things to look for. These are
red flags. >>Going back into all the
investigations I’ve seen specific to victims, we can find red
flags throughout the investigation. There’s always
indicators, until that one giant thing happens and we have to
get involved, there’s indicators leading up the entire time,
that’s what we tell the local community it
is there you just have to know what to look for and where to
look. >>Strategic outreach I will go
over a lot of this but I’m glad to be on the panel with Jim
through our anti-court teams, that have been established to
Department of Justice, United States attorney’s office we now
have six participating teams throughout the country quite
simply when we say T multidisciplinary teams, they
consist of HSI Department of Justice, FBI, Department of
Labor, any group that’s involved in some type of labor services.
With that we have found that where we had the teams the
increase in cases and prosecutions have
dramatically increased. So it’s a full spiral it’s great to be
here with Jim because the of labor do not investigations,
they have a lot of great information that if the eye does
not know about, we hear from our ages all the time about the amazing information and
partnering with the Department of Labor my personal opinion
this is one of the strongest things we can do with our
trafficking initiative’s partner with the agencies bring the
affirmations together and sharing with one another for the
greater good, these individuals and victims are being — gone
through circumstances and we can bring together our expertise
and use our laws and policies to bring these individuals to
justice the bottom line, this is the website from an NGO, it shows that we are
partnering with our local agencies and NGOs, this is
wonderful because they are interviewing migrant workers
after the return to Mexico and their finding out what type of
circumstances it just law in the US, once the H2 A, H2B always
return to Mexico, or to another foreign country, we don’t hear
from them ever again unless they reapply and we have the
opportunity to interview so therefore once they leave if
they have been abused or exploded, there’s no way of
knowing it, so an NGO is wonderful because they can
capture that information provided to us and we can at
least, look further into it and initiate investigations.
Reaching out to regulatory agencies, quite
simply, a lot of times I will use trafficking in California,
have a lot of canteen owes in the area, a lot of complaints of
prostitution occurring, I cannot just walk in there, very
close community, they would know they would smell me as a law enforcement agent.
>>We cannot put sources in their undercover officers
incredibly difficult. So then what do we do? We cannot get a
search warrant. Cannot get an arrest warrant. We rely on the
state regulatory agencies, alcohol
beverage control, they can go in, they can look into the
licensing for the alcoholic beverages and we can partner
with them we can go with them, as well as the state Board of
barbering in cosmetology there’s a lot of male salons or
suspected trafficking is occurring, you not be able to
get it with a search warrant but we can go with our fellow
agencies to see what is going on within the area, talk to the
individuals employees, and get a better sense of what’s going on
within the that shop. >>Finally as I mentioned the
last piece of this, which I believe will be the most
difficult is trying to identify and interview these individuals
once they return to their homes. Having worked in the victim
Center community for quite some time I work sex trafficking
labor trafficking, what I have found is when these individuals
when the victim’s return home, and they are out of the abuse,
they’re more likely to disclose their abuse. So once they get
out of this environment in the US, and go back home, they are
more likely to disclose some may not. But we have no mechanism
for reaching out to them, unless they reapply and
come back in until somebody about this unless they tell a family member. This is the
process that we want to develop in working with state
departments and foreign governments and identify some of
the visa holders that return home and provide them with a
question and say what happens. Very simple questions. If they
say yes, if certain percentages if they respond to within the
questionnaire that we receive this at the headquarters level
and we can push it out to our local agencies to the FBI
offices and task force throughout the country. That is
the labor trafficking initiative.
>> Thank you.
>> So you have heard about what
happens and how workers get here, what happens if they
potentially have been exploited in the workplace or victimized,
I will have Elizabeth come up to quickly talk about some of this
and the protection for immigrant victims that USCIS has
to adjudicate. Once they have been identified.
>>That afternoon. — Good afternoon. Thank you Rachel
and thanks for this opportunity to be on this panel. It’s an
important issue and I am glad that the office is highlighting
this issue, and the year that I have
been with USCIS I have been really impressed with the
attention that’s being placed on trafficking, labor trafficking
specifically, to raise awareness and put more effort on
combating it and thank you for your leadership.
>>And the blue campaign effort around that within DHS, as
mentioned, I will talk very briefly about the protections
available for labor trafficking victims.
>>Then I will talk about what protections are in place to
identify or protect labor trafficking victims even further
once they come forward.
>>Just a brief history, in a bipartisan
effort in 2000, Congress created both nonimmigrant status and
visas, and both of these visas are forms of status that they
provide temporary status to victims of human trafficking, or
certain other crimes, the visas are victims of trafficking and
the U visa for qualifying crimes serious crimes and I will show
you the list, but trafficking is included in that so these are
two opportunities that victims may have to seek protection from
deportation and temporary status here in the US, and in
creating these Congress recognizes, that it’s often very
intimidating for victims to come forward, report what is
happening to them to law enforcement because of the very intimidating situation
they are in with their traffickers and also because the
threat is that the law enforcement will
be called if they complain or try to leave the situation. So
there is an uncertainty. And so Congress in recognizing this
created these benefits to help victims stabilize and for law
enforcement to have a tool to use to help them feel
comfortable coming forward. >>There are similarities and
differences between the two benefits, they both provide
lawful status for up to four years, with a possibility of
permanent lawful status or green card, they both provide work
authorization upon approval, and they allow victims who qualify
to bring certain family members to the US, there are some
differences however for the T visa receiver has roughly —
something that doesn’t exist for holders there are also both
subject to an annual cap for principal applicants 5000 for
the T and 10,000 for the U’s and even though we know that
the estimates are trafficking victims in the US or foreign
nationals is high, today we have not met that cap for the T
program, and we’ve exceeded the cap for the program every year
since 2010. Of course that’s protecting the wide range of victims, but that speaks to one
of the differences between the two programs because the cap
affect processing time and so as those of you who represent the
holders know and mentioned that some of the panelists earlier
today, the waitlist for U’s are as much longer because of the
time it takes to adjudicate and we can’t get the visa to more
than 10,000 people each year. So what we do is we do in adjudication, if it’s an
approvable case, but we don’t have a visa available that we
place people on a waiting list, and they can get different
actions for deportation and work authorization, at that time.
>> Also one of the differences is
in the eligibility requirements, for T visa you have to be
physically present in the US, on account of the trafficking that
you suffered whereas the U visa old applicants that they do
not have to be physically present in the US when they
apply, one difference. Both of the visas have a helpfulness
requirements the T visa is that they comply with any reasonable
request to help investigator prosecuted traffickers and for
the U visa it is a helpfulness requirement, help assist law
enforcement of similar requirements, for the T
visa, applicant has to show the removal from the US would cause extreme hardship and we do look
at a broad range of factors will be make that determination. The
U visa the crime has to occur in the US that violated US law,
with jurisdiction where the crime occurs but as I said the
person could be outside the US, in addition to being helpful to
law enforcement, the victim has to have suffered substantial
physical or mental abuse as a result of the crime.
>>I mentioned there was a variety of crimes,
here is the list, you can see trafficking is there as well as
involuntary servitude, peonage, and fraud and former
labor contracting, which could come into play.
>>And so, why would someone who is a victim of trafficking
apply for a U visa may be because they are outside the US,
or for the T visa to be a victim of trafficking it is the
definition in the acts that are created, and the definition
might be different than say a local state statute, because for
the U visa the person is a victim of a federal crime or
state or local crime. >>One of the other similarities and
differences between the two is law enforcement involvement,
both are designed to encourage people to come forward and law
enforcement does play a role in providing evidence, the
certification that DOL is accruing in the cases so it’s
mandatory for us to receive certification from law
enforcement for U visa and also T cases and generally there are evidence from law
enforcement that the person was a victim of what they say they
are a victim of, the trafficking or some of the other crimes and
whether they will help or compliance, many other relevant
information that law-enforcement can supply
that would be helpful. >>So that’s a very basic
overview of the two benefits and in terms of the question of
what are we doing to enhance protections for labor
trafficking victims, in response to stakeholder concerns, about
some of the adjudication in our visa program, we did take a look
at the training and guidance and we did develop training for the
officers to adjudicate these cases on the dynamic of power
and control in the workplace, but don’t just deal trafficking
with a whole range of exploitation, and how those
dynamics come into play, and we also enhanced our guidance on
what substantial abuse means in the context of workplace crimes
including labor trafficking and develop guidance for
adjudicators on identifying federal labor trafficking crimes
in the UV program. And anything else you
want me to cover Rachel? >> Thank you.
>>I urge you to [ Indiscernible ] the talking points will provide a good final
summary of all the information that has been shared today. And highlight what this all
means for actual workers in the field who have been impacted by
trafficking, and who have experienced this firsthand.
>>Thank you everybody. Thank you for
bringing us together. I am — the deputy
legal director for the Southern poverty Law Center, it is founded in
1971 in Montgomery Alabama to make the promise of the civil
rights movement a reality. The immigrant justice
project focuses on economic and civil rights for immigrants.
>>My job here is the easy part I get to say here are the places
where the protections have not quite protected people, where there
are gaps and vulnerabilities created, these folks are the
hard workers, they create things that work, that make people and
make the immigration system work, so I will run through a
case that we had to illustrate the vulnerabilities created by
the programs and specifically H2B but there is great work
that has been done by people in this room and by the agencies, to reduce vulnerability.
>> I will talk to you about data
versus signal is a case that was filed in Louisiana in 2008, it
started with Hurricane Katrina, Katrina hit the Gulf Coast,
August 29, 2005, and it created changes for people, what’s
relevant to this case, is that oil rigs, the repairs, they had a lot of
business opportunities, a lot of rates that were damaged, and
their main competitor had been hit hard by the storm, but they
did not have workers a lot of workers had been displaced and a
number of workers also had left because FEMA was paying $36 per
hour to drive a truck and if you can make $18 an hour to work
submerged in water in oily water or $36 to drive a truck,
it’s an easy choice.
>>This is an opportunity any problem, though she — this is an opportunity
and a problem. The labor recruiter, went to signal
and said no problem I can find you workers, skilled worlds and
filters from India they will be delighted to work for you and it
will be free for you to get these workers, the workers will
pay my fee, and they will pay the
fee of the immigration attorney. discussed H2 visas and they
discussed green cards, and signal said just get them very
fast. I don’t know if I can go back but the slide before, it
was an ad that the recruiter had run that was kind of
interesting for a couple of reasons, it advertised for
temporary and permanent visas, and the other is that it had a
salary range of 14, $18 per hour. So this is one of the
flaws I want to call, which is the prevailing wage determination while people
work hard to make them accurate they don’t match the market. So in signal, according to
testimony, the market was $36 per hour. But these guys were
approved for around $14 per hour. And so they created this
inequality between what people who were trying to use local
workers had to pay and what people were bringing in H2
workers had to pay so signal said we made 8 million extra dollars that first year of
the program, because we could underbid all of the competitors
because the labor costs were lower so do not just — not just in places where
there is a natural disaster, there are some good workers out
there looking to see distortions and the more market, Signal has said, yes get the
workers here however you can. So this gentleman was promised a
green card, and there is a series of
how much you will pay, and it’s not — all this happened in
India and so those of you who work with temporary workers know
that the labor recruiting process is kind of like the wild
West. There is not a federal registry, within the program
anyway, of people who are sending people to the US,
recruiters are not required to put a bond out that will get
them in the game, in case they are found to
violate the laws of for example, this gentleman, the gentleman
who drafted this letter, the Indian recruiter, a jury found
that he defrauded the workers and recruited and broke his
contract as well as trafficking and assessed him to pay $500,000
in damages per worker. But because he had no resources in the US, where hoping to get $100
per worker. So there’s not a lot of ways to reach some of the
bad actors that are off of the US sure so that’s another thing
that I would hope that we will see in the future is, greater regulation of
recruiters and requiring them to be transparent, so workers will pay
more for a green card to let them stay permanently, and bring
their families then they will for a 10 month visa.
>>So the recruiter and the lawyer promised the green cards
and so the workers paid up to $25,000 per
person, this particular person paid just over $12,000 to get
the job. And since, since this was in
2006, since then, DHS has created regulations that say
you’re not allowed to do this. That is great. And
important. But the problem is that what happens if a worker
tells the department of state that he paid prohibitive recruitment
fees, is that he denied a visa. And there is no mechanism in
place for him to be reimbursed, and lots of times the employer
gets the visa for all the other workers and so there’s just —
there are problems with having an enforcement system that actually works to prevent the
payment of these is. — Of these fees.
>>Here is the housing. This is rural Mississippi. This is a
trailer the size of a small bubble wide, 24 workers were
housed in this trailer, two toilets. Each one of those lockers is all the space
that the worker had to put all of their things in Or they slept
with the things on their bed and stuff like that. That was
the space they had. Imagine that you have been working all day
come home and this is the only place
where you have to put your clothes, your wet close and your
shoes and imagine the smell and for that workers are charged
$1000 per month each for those accommodations because there is
no poor ability within the H2 B program, or it is difficult, the American
coworkers were saying, I would leave if I were you, these guys
are saying, this is the only job I can have in the US, I have to
make back $12,000 before my visa runs out so I cannot go
anywhere I have to pay the thousand dollars per month so that lack of
portability is a problem, I would strongly urge all of you
to ask the members of Congress to allow for employment status
to be decoupled for immigration status, so that kind of
exploitation cannot happen.
>>Here is how that because of that coupling of immigration
status and employment status, employer — they said, if you
leave you will be undocumented and you could be deported and I
will call the police and you will be out of here. That’s
really scary. So that’s what happened in signal, the worker
started to meet with lawyers, the company found out, it said
if you do not stop meeting with the lawyers, if you create a
problem, you will go. We will fire all of you and the poor all of you. They will find the
ringleaders and fire them and deport them.
>>So that separation between employment status and
immigration status need to be divided and finally, the slide goes to
continued presence so the worker did get enough community
support, to feel like they could leave, and this is the hunger
vigil that was happening in DC for four weeks, so people can
stabilize and get employment authorization, while the charges
having traffic were investigated and they did not
get [ Indiscernible ] and that’s not at all unusual, but we
hear and what the allies tell us is that a number of federal
agents are uncomfortable giving continued presence to people
unless they are sure that trafficking is taking place and
frankly the reason why CP exists is the
investigation can happen, so immigrants are stable, they have
an ability to work and to start to rebuild their lives, while
the investigation is happening. So I would encourage training on
CP and encourage officers of agents to issue more line for
what it was originally envisioned as — a jury awarded this. If we all work
together, I really believe that we can make the immigration
system work better for people and make it so that government
processes are not either or both making vulnerabilities
for workers but also making it so that law-abiding companies
that are seeking to hire local workers are at a disadvantage.
There are ways we can do this. Thank you.
>> Thank you for joining. If you
have questions I can get you connected to the panelists.
Thank you for participating.
>>[

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