Will the USCIS Ombudsman's Seventh Conference Reflect Changes in Attitude or Direction?

By Dan Cadman on November 29, 2017

The Office of the Ombudsman at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced its upcoming seventh annual conference.

As has been the norm, I have no doubt that the conference will be attended by immigrant advocacy groups, representatives of employer organizations wanting cheap labor, and members of the private immigration bar aplenty, all seeking ways to further open the door for their respective constituencies.

What I hope will come to pass, though, is substantial attendance by other groups as well: by citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been victimized in one-sided marriage frauds by aliens as means to their green cards (see here and here); and by representatives of professional organizations whose members' jobs and career prospects have been irrevocably harmed by the flood of nonimmigrants who pour in under the various "guest worker" programs because they are willing to work for less, and with fewer benefits and safeguards (see here and here).

These are the people and groups who have been given short shrift by the ombudsman's offices at both USCIS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In the past, when they reached out to those offices, they were ignored, misleadingly told that those offices' legal mandates didn't extend to them, and in many other ways given a bureaucratic runaround.

The nonsense about the ombudsman's offices not being empowered to help is, of course, untrue. Here is what the statute has to say about the USCIS Ombudsman's charge (emphasis added):

1) To assist individuals and employers in resolving problems with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services;

2) To identify areas in which individuals and employers have problems in dealing with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services; and

3) To the extent possible, to propose changes in the administrative practices of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to mitigate problems identified under paragraph (2).

Surely the phrase, "individuals" encompasses citizens as well as aliens, does it not? And if citizens have been taken advantage of in love or employment by unscrupulous aliens or employers, is that not a problem over which USCIS has a measure of control, given its adjudicative powers and responsibilities? Especially if it is official USCIS policy, procedure, or even neglect that fuels the problem?

The Trump administration promised to change all that. This is an opportunity to find out whether there was truth in the promises or whether they were instead just smoke rings being blown into the ether.