Mayorkas's USCIS Town Hall: Processing Times Going Up, Skeptical of Social Media Vetting

By Robert Law on March 18, 2021

After appearing before the House Homeland Security Committee and doubling down on his refusal to call the crisis at the southern border a crisis, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas held a virtual town hall with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) staff. According to a USCIS source who listened to the town hall, Mayorkas bungled his response to questions about screening and vetting, while also taking a subtle swipe at career Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) officers for doing their job.

In the context of social media vetting, Mayorkas told the agency's nearly 20,000 employees that he is deeply concerned that FDNS (without specifically naming that directorate) is abusing its authority to screen aliens' social media accounts. The secretary provided no examples on which he is basing this concern, but insisted he was going to have "leadership" look into it. This baseless accusation against the dedicated men and women who seek out fraudsters and national security concerns is setting a marker of demoralizing the workforce until they submit to his rubber-stamping philosophy.

If that isn't bad enough, Mayorkas is more concerned with having USCIS staff assist with the Biden border crisis instead of processing legal immigration benefits. Along with Acting Director Tracy Renaud (who interestingly is not the career official former USCIS head Joe Edlow named to temporarily lead the agency), Mayorkas implored USCIS staff to volunteer for the border work. Remarkably, the secretary told agency staff he is currently unconcerned if the volunteer work reduces the number of adjudicators to process legal immigration benefits. The border crisis (or "challenge" in Mayorkas-speak) is far more important than timely adjudications. USCIS was routinely criticized during the Trump administration for the historic backlogs for a number of immigration benefits. Mayorkas is making it abundantly clear that the illegal aliens at the border are a higher priority than approving the naturalization, adjustment of status (green card), or temporary work status for those who actually follow the law.