On Ombudsmen, Sinecures, and Phony Enforcement

By Dan Cadman, September 29, 2015

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word ombudsman as "an official appointed to investigate individuals' complaints against maladministration, especially that of public authorities." In theory this is an excellent concept, particularly since it occupies a gap not usually filled by watchdog organizations like inspectors general, which generally focus on issues such as outright malfeasance, crimes, and internal corruption rather than on poor administrative practices.

But where immigration matters are concerned, leave it to the Obama administration to skew even the most fundamentally sound concepts. It placed ombudsman positions in two key Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is responsible for adjudicating immigration benefits applications, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which handles immigration enforcement throughout the interior of the country.

The exclusive focus of each of these ombudsman offices is complaints filed by aliens and/or their attorneys. Complaints about agency practices or biases in favor of illegal aliens and beneficiary applicants over citizens or lawful residents have been uniformly ignored. This should not be a surprise given that the individuals were hand-picked for the jobs by White House and DHS leaders whose own focus is skewed in favor of applicants and illegal aliens.

The lopsidedness at ICE was particularly outrageous. Agency practices involving the release of criminal aliens, or acceptance of sanctuary practices by states and local governments also involving release of criminal aliens, resulted in recidivists hitting the streets and committing horrific crimes. The ICE ombudsman, Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, while oozing sympathy for aliens in detention or facing removal proceedings, turned a blind eye to the pain of victims and survivors of the alien recidivists.

As I observed in a March 2014 posting, the agency has been so callous about the rights of victims that it even denied a Freedom of Information Act request for data about an illegal alien by the citizen who was maimed by that alien, falsely claiming that providing the information would violate the alien's privacy rights. (Illegal aliens have no privacy rights under the federal Privacy Act.)

CIS Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan noted in May that, "ICE devotes very few resources to victim assistance and notification programs, and these meager efforts are focused primarily on helping victims of human trafficking rather than those who have been harmed by alien criminals. In fact, the only 'ombudsman' type of position ICE has established — and maintained even in the face of specific congressional de-funding of the position — focuses on aiding illegal aliens, not their victims."

The imbalance in Lorenzen-Strait's ombudsman role was so obvious that Congress voted to abolish the position; because the vote was a rider to a budget bill, it was signed into law by the president.

But what do you do with such a faithful lapdog when his position has been eliminated? Easy-peasy! You create a new position for him. Meet Andrew Lorenzen-Strait Version 2.0, the ICE deputy assistant director for custody programs, in which role he will be doing ... well, pretty much what he was doing before: ensuring that no alien ever gets deported.

Last week Breitbart News reported that, under Lorenzen-Strait's steadfast direction, ICE is initiating a comprehensive (translate "expensive") new program that pairs illegal aliens with social workers, at government expense:

"The [Family Case Management Program] will pilot a new alternative to detention initiative that uses case managers to ensure participants comply with immigration obligations while providing access to holistic community based services tailored to the individual families' needs," Customs and Immigration Services explained in a notification to stakeholders late last week.

The seed money for this bold new program is $11 million. You can count on that amount growing exponentially. Lorenzen-Strait is quoted as saying, "The face of this program will be the local community organizations that will be shoring up the load, working with these families and ensuring they have success."

Great news! The administration is now outsourcing immigration law enforcement to advocacy organizations. Wonder how that will work out? Hold onto your wallets.