In World War II they were called "dollar-a-year men."
They were business executives and they were dispatched to Washington by their firms to help the government organize the procurement side of the defense effort. They stayed on the corporate payrolls, while getting $1 a year from the government.
Many of them worked hard in the war mobilization, and many of them, it was reported at the time, steered federal contracts to their firms. Many probably did both.
USCIS seems to be using that old technique to help that agency become even more business-friendly.
It has released an odd sort of help-wanted advertisement entitled: "Business Expert, Entrepreneurs in Residence, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services".
Does USCIS want a single expert, as the first part of the heading suggests, or several, as the next part seems to imply? That is just one of the little mysteries involved in this operation.
Another one: is it, or are they, paid position(s)? We gather, on good authority, that there will be no pay at all, and that the individuals would be expected to stay on the corporate payroll for the 90-day assignments, but reading the ad does not shed any light on that variable. There is no explicit statement about compensation.
What is totally clear is that the USCIS leadership wants to make it easier for employers to secure alien workers; while some observers think that hiring aliens, and thus shouldering aside citizen and green card workers, is all too easy, apparently these processes are not easy enough for this administration.
The USCIS statement says, in part:
... [the program] is designed to ensure that USCIS policies and practices are fully informed by the business realities of industries that regularly use visa categories for immigrant investors, job-creating entrepreneurs, and workers with specialized skills, knowledge or abilities. As part of this initiative, USCIS seeks to clarify available paths within existing immigration laws that may enable foreign entrepreneurs to create and run new businesses in the United States ...
Note the "regularly use visa categories" part of the statement. Usually the corporate rhetoric is that migrants are to be employed only when U.S. workers are not available; the use of the quoted phrase seems to indicate that USCIS no longer feels constrained to include such verbiage.
As noted in an earlier blog, the USCIS leadership seems engaged in a continuing battle with its own staff members who appear to their bosses to be too careful in their work – i.e, they sometimes find that they need to deny applications from industry. The borrowing of a business expert or two would be a logical part of an assault on staff decision-making.
It will be interesting to see if USCIS, an agency that typically holds its cards close to its vest, will let the public know who gets these assignments, and what corporations pay the salaries of those sent to Washington help USCIS find still more loopholes in their own systems.
If our information is correct, that corporations will continue to pay this "Business Expert" or these "Business Experts", then only the largest firms and those with most at stake in migration matters will be willing to lend talent to the agency. These firms, in turn, will probably have to draft people to take these positions – but what an in-house lobbying opportunity for those firms!
Meanwhile, there is another group of executives who know a great deal about corporations and their work forces whose advice USCIS might want to hear – but, for some reason, the advertisement does not seem to reach out to officials of labor unions.