Immigration patriots are concerned about the ongoing purge of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), though not because saboteurs like Lady DACA (Kirstjen Nielsen) have been summarily fired. This insider is concerned more about the issues around the firing of Ronald Vitiello, former head of the Border Patrol and nominee to head up one of DHS’ main enforcement components, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), itself a troubled agency, especially given the sabotage of immigration enforcement by ICE SVU Special Agents-in-Charge (SAC). Your correspondent is agnostic on Vitiello who once showed great promise, but failed to discipline insubordinate ICE SVU SACs and to increase enforcement.
One concern is the appointment of a Customs puke to the Acting Secretary position, Kevin McAleenan. McAleenan has no immigration enforcement experience. His biography is quite strange, another attorney who went into government service, as if studying the law would create a skilled law enforcement officer or administrator. After failing in an application to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), he was recruited into the U.S. Customs Service (USCS) to serve in the Office of Anti-Terrorism, despite no experience or training in that area.
He was then mysteriously transferred to the Office of Field Operations in the new U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as a manager. The important thing here is that he never went to basic training for CBP Officers and never made an immigration law arrest. Basically, his experience is in a customs-oriented view of border security, not immigration enforcement. I warned about CBP and the battle between the legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) cadre and the USCS cadre, where the USCS cadre purged legacy INS employees and experience from CBP, to the detriment of immigration enforcement at Ports-of-Entry (POE). [President Trump Will Have Foes In Immigration Bureaucracy—But Also Friends. They Can Help Him Win, by Federale, VDare, April 25, 2016] McAleenan also was an Obama appointee. I have deep concerns about him and his loyalty to the Trump agenda, an issue where Trump’s personnel choices have hurt him.
But back to L. Francis Cissna. Cissna has been from the first a strong supporter of Candidate Trump’s immigration policy. And he has worked hard, against a recalcitrant bureaucracy at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A challenge to his authority he has not fully suppressed. He has also not made the basic personnel and training changes required as advised. [Taming U.S. Citizenship And Immigration Services, by Federale, Federale Blog (Deleted by Google), December 17, 2016] My patriotic sources at USCIS tell me he is the best Director of USCIS in the agency’s history, and that is correct.
My same sources tell me there are two problems deep in the Resistance bureaucracy at USCIS that Cissna has not been able to control. First, the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate (RAOID)and the Office of Chief Counsel, or more particularly, the Offices of the Chief Counsel in each district and field office. Both components of USCIS are actively sabotaging enforcement, the Offices of Chief Counsel in the field acting to sabotage enforcement action.
The various attorneys in local offices are sabotaging the filing of Form I-862, Notice To Appear (NTA), the charging document for deportable aliens and fraudulent application. Contrary to the practice in the legacy INS where only the first line supervisor’s approval was needed to file a NTA to place an alien in removal proceedings, now approval by an attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel is needed.
And these attorneys, all members of the Resistance to a man, or woman, are refusing to give their approval for NTAs, bottlenecking the system. Furthermore, the RAOID is doing something similar, ordering Asylum and Refugee Officers to approve obviously fraudulent credible fear claims by the hordes of illegal aliens entering over the land border in Caravans of Death To America By Demographic Displacement.
But the official said that an initial assessment of the basis for a request for asylum — known as a “credible fear” screening — too often accepts the claim that the migrant was persecuted. The official also said that many more asylum seekers should be rejected during that first step.
Out of 97,728 completed interviews with migrants in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, 2018, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services confirmed a credible fear of persecution 74,677 times, according to an agency official.
[Trump Administration to Push for Tougher Asylum Rules, By Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, NYT, April 9, 2019]
Cissna has been doing good in many places—the H-1B problem is one of those areas where he is making progress.
When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) introduced its H-1B Employer Data Hub skeptics assumed the agency hoped to generate negative attention toward companies and H-1B visa holders. However, it turns out analyzing the data in the hub reveals something USCIS might not have anticipated – evidence the agency is denying H-1B petitions at such a high level compared to previous years that it is clear to attorneys USCIS has acted without proper legal authority in restricting H-1B visas.
“Denial rates for H-1B petitions have increased significantly, rising from 6% in FY 2015 to 32% in the first quarter of FY 2019 for new H-1B petitions for initial employment,” according to a National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis of USCIS data in the H-1B Employer Data Hub. “Between FY 2015 and FY 2018 the denial rate for new H-1B petitions quadrupled from 6% to 24%. To put this in perspective, between FY 2010 and FY 2015, the denial rate for initial H-1B petitions never exceeded 8%, while today the rate is 3 or 4 times higher.”
[New Data Show H-1B Denial Rates Reaching Highest Levels, by Stuart Anderson, Forbes, April 10, 2019]
Kudos for that work to Cissna. The H-1B issue was a major Candidate Trump talking point during the election, one that hurts Americans directly. But new reporting confirms problems Cissna has with the Resistance—the sabotage is ongoing, and he has yet to gain control over the bureaucracy.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Lee Francis Cissna is facing scrutiny as President Donald Trump considers bigger shakeups at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
A senior administration official blamed USCIS under Cissna’s leadership for failing to take control of the bureaucracy and push through regulations that would put more scrutiny on migrants seeking to claim asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.
[USCIS Head Faces Scrutiny Amid DHS Shakeup, by Saagar Enjeti, The Daily Caller, April 9, 2019]
Cissna is apparently attempting to get good policy through the bureaucracy, but is continually being thwarted, as my sources confirm.
The official stressed that strong actions taken on asylum regulations need to be shepherded through by a strong manager who is aware that many of the career employees who work for them will oppose them.
A former administration official who worked with Cissna told the Caller that he has “let the bureaucracy overwhelm him to the point of grinding everything to a halt,” and that Cissna “has not done one” administrative action in attempting to change the way asylum claims are processed at the southern border.
“Every single time there’s an idea, it dies in USCIS,” the former official lamented.
And it continues, the Resistance has battled Cissna to a halt in numerous areas in USCIS and that is unacceptable:
“It is accurate to say that his knowledge and adherence to the law is virtually unmatched, but … he lacks the bold leadership, assertiveness. and executive savvy to guide the administration’s biggest policy priorities in the second half of Trump’s first term,” said one source, adding that Cissna is:
…perceived as excruciatingly skittish, timid, risk-averse, and unwilling toor unable to take bold decisive action to push policy and regulations through the bureaucratic hurdles. Frustration with the administration towards Cissna has been building for months. It was expected he would be replaced by the end of 2019, yet he’s been given additional time and chances to take the bold actions expected from the White House … In terms of key administration priorities, the amount of unfinished work is extraordinary … No other Senate-confirmed administration official would ever be given such leniency.
“The administration wants someone who can aggressively and skillfully navigate bureaucratic hurdles and red tape,” the source said.
[Immigration Agency Director Fights to Keep Job Amid Migrant Rush, by Neil Munro, Breitbart, April 10, 2019]
Tellingly, Cissna has failed to produce the Public Charge regulations to fight welfare use by legal aliens, a major failure.
For example, the USCIS agency has not completed the Public Charge regulation, which would reduce the number of green cards awarded to poor migrants who do not have the skills, character, or health to earn a living in the United States, and who would have to rely on welfare, food stamps, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The draft regulation was leaked in March 2018 — but it has not been completed by USCIS.
But there is where Cissna has a problem. The buck stops with him. If he can’t control the Resistance and get things done, then he has to go. He does have options. First, issue instructions to the Field that NTAs can be issued without Office of Chief Counsel review. Next, have line Asylum and Refugee Officers identify those actively sabotaging the Credible Fear process. The reporting by Todd Bensman says that the sabotage comes from middle managers in the field. Issue instructions to line officers to follow the law and not approve cases en masse. Transfer, re-assign, or discipline recalcitrant middle managers.
Cissna is a good man and patriot, but can he win the fight with the Resistance inside USCIS? It does not appear so. And is there someone who can, a more important question. We don’t want a lesser man or woman in the position.