An Unintended Burst of Governmental Honesty?

By David North on March 19, 2012

One worries that government agencies, in their formal reports, gild their lilies and hide their failures.

But a glance at the USCIS Ombudsman's most recent report shows a different story.

To summarize, the Ombudsman has made 16 formal recommendations to the head office of USCIS since December 5, 2008, and only three of them have been implemented. The following table from the report shows first part of its summary:

Of these three accomplishments, two are significant. These are recommendation 39: "Improving the Process for Victims of Human Trafficking and Certain Criminal Activity: The T and U Visa", and recommendation 38: "Observations on the E-Verify Experience in Arizona and Recommended Customer Service Enhancements".

I have mixed views about the U visa. The administration has gone all-out to make sure that the 10,000-a-year ceiling is met, and in terms of efficiency toward a vulnerable population I suppose that's a good thing. On the other hand, these crime victims certainly do nothing to raise the average level of human capital among the arriving immigrants. They do, however, neatly meet the Emma Lazarus' definition of "The wretched refuse of your teeming shore".

Making the E-Verify program more user-friendly, needless to say, is an unmixed blessing.

The third implemented recommendation, 37: "Study and Recommendations on Naturalization Oath Ceremonies" deals only with, to use the current phrase, the optics of the situation.

The last point reminds me of some of the more attractive elements of other nations' naturalization processes that I studied in the past.

The Canadians always have a Mountie in full formal regalia, complete with the red coat, and that adds a touch of color to an otherwise ponderous ceremony. At the Australian events, some years ago, anyway, the Daughters of the British Empire used to give the new Australians a small tree if they lived in a free-standing house, or a house plant, if they lived in an apartment. It was a nice touch. Thus a bit of red on one side of the Equator, and a bit of green on the other.

The Ombudsman, to be fair, is trying to obtain change within a system that does not always welcome the idea. Perhaps some of the 16 other recommendations during this time period will be both useful and implemented in the future. And maybe the office will figure out how to put a more positive spin on its work in the years to come.

Topics: Politics