Guestworker Plan Discredited By New GAO Report


Aside from the fact that any guest
worker plan would be nothing more than an amnesty deal
tied with a big red bow for

lawbreakers
, there is another reason to reject it:

Our government can`t handle it!

The

Government Accountability Office
(the General
Accounting Office

until 2004
) released investigative findings on March
15:


IMMIGRATION BENEFITS: Additional Controls and Sanctions
Strategy Could Enhance DHS`s Ability to Control
BenefitFraud GAO-06-259
[PDF

here
]

It reveals that an adjudicator for
the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)
reviewing an application for legal residency has to
follow a very specific guideline:

Just glance at it…and maybe
check for spelling errors.

The GAO points to this smoking
guideline in the

USCIS Adjudicator`s Field Manual.


“…adjudicators are to try to adjudicate the application
based only on their review of the evidence
submitted…only when an adjudicator cannot decide whether
to grant an immigration benefit based on the evidence
submitted, are they to consider taking additional steps
such as conducting internal research, requesting
additional evidence, interviewing individuals, or
requesting a site visit.”

Adjudicators don`t interview
these people unless they are “undecided”?!!?

That explains a lot!

Bryanna translation:  If the USCIS
adjudicator were to look at the application, open a desk
drawer and pull out a

Magic 8 Ball
, shake it and then make their decision
based on the words that appear in the answer window
that
would be a more reliable system (in terms of
fraud detection) than what is currently in place!

Example:  Should I approve this
application for

Ahmed Al Hafez?
Shake, shake, shake…it says "signs
point to yes
."
Ok then, application approved!

And guess what? The GAO also says
that fraud is basically rampant where immigration
benefits are concerned.

Here`s the problem with their
methodology:

Current USCIS policy states that
when the USCIS cannot adjudicate an application for
permanent residency that contains an accompanying
application for work authorization within 90 days, the
applicant is entitled to an interim work authorization.

Yeah, the applicant is allowed to

work in the U.S.
while waiting for a final
decision…and that`s not all they can do.

Again, according to the GAO, this
is the racket:

“ICE
agents we interviewed also said that they suspected that
many individuals apply for permanent residency
fraudulently simply to obtain a valid temporary work
authorization document. The interim benefit remains
valid until it expires or until it is revoked by USCIS.”

How long is the interim employment
authorization benefit valid for?


“Failure to complete the adjudication within 90 days
will result in the grant of an employment authorization
document for a period not to exceed 240 days.”
[Title
8 Code of Federal Regulations Sec. 274a.13 sub (d)
]

That`s eight months (for those like
me with

math issues
) to do a lot of damage…

Because, according to the GAO
report,

“Once
a temporary work authorization is fraudulently obtained,
an alien can use it to obtain other valid identity
documents such as a temporary social security card and a
driver`s license, thus facilitating their living and
working in the United States.”

  • I said the problem was
    rampant
    so let`s look at the statistics.

“In
fiscal year 2005, USCIS adjudicated about 7.5 million
applications. (For “an immigration benefit—the ability
of an alien to live and in some cases work in the United
States either permanently or on a temporary basis,”
according to the GAO`s cover letter to Congress.)

“In
fiscal year 2004, 67 percent of applications were
adjudicated in `service centers` that generally process
only applications that do not require an

interview with the applicant.

(FY 2005 percentages not
available…but we can use 2004 as a rough estimate.)

This means that roughly 5
million
applications were adjudicated without
interviewing the applicants to verify the evidence they
provided.

Now then, according to the GAO
report, in FY2005 there were three application
categories which accounted for more than three-quarters
of the fraud denials:

  • Application for a

    spouse
    to immigrate (14 percent)

(Almost half of the applications
adjudicated by USCIS in FY2005 fell into these three
categories.)

Stay with me folks, I know we`ve
got a lot of numbers here and I hate numbers but
I promise it will make sense.

According to the GAO report,

“…about
85 percent of applicants for permanent residency also
apply for temporary work authorization.”

According to my beloved

James Fulford
, about a quarter of the
above-mentioned applications for permanent residency
would therefore also be seeking work authorization.

In a nutshell, roughly two-thirds
of the applications that are

denied based on fraud
are from applicants seeking
authorization for temporary employment.

Some people call them

guest workers.

Let me say that again just to make
sure you read it correctly…guest workers.

To make matters worse…oh yes, it
can always get worse…what happens when an applicant
files fraudulent documents?

In a word:

nothing
.

One of the areas marked needs
improvement
by the GAO was fraud detection.


“Although best practice guidance suggests that sanctions
for those who

commit benefit fraud
are central to a strong fraud
control environment
[Bryanna: No!!!!] and the INA
(Immigration and Nationality Act) provides for
criminal and administrative sanctioning, DHS does

not currently actively use
the administrative
sanctions available to it.”

In FY2005, USCIS only referred
about 2289 immigration

benefit fraud
cases to Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE), and of that number, ICE only accepted
about 26%.

Slightly fewer than 600 fraud cases
were looked into by ICE…not necessarily prosecuted but
looked into.

But the USCIS has to power to
impose sanction that would effectively pay for
themselves.

  1. For

    document fraud
    (committed after 1999) the DHS can
    impose fines ranging from $275 to $2,200 per document
    for a first offense and from $2,200 to $5,500 per
    document for those with prior violations.
  2. Some individuals may be deemed

    inadmissible
    for future applications.
  3. Some aliens found guilty of fraud can be removed from
    the United States and barred from entering in the
    future.

That`s not all!

The penalties collected would go
into a fund—the Immigration Enforcement Account at the
Department of the Treasury.

This account can be used to pay for
a variety of enforcement enhancement provisions,
including:

  1. A system to

    identify and track
    criminal aliens,

    deportable aliens
    , inadmissible aliens, and
    aliens illegally

    entering the United States
    ; and
  2. The repair, maintenance, or


    construction

    of border facilities to deter
    illegal entry along the border.

Yep, that

700 mile fence
everybody keeps talking about could
have been paid for by the lawbreakers themselves.

But it won`t—thanks to the
Department of Homeland Security.

Americans will get to pick up the
tab on

that little project
…no surprise there.

In closing, let me make something
very clear:

I am not saying

immigration officers
have an easy job—they have a
very, very difficult job.

I am not suggesting that there is
an easy solution—but that doesn`t mean there
isn`t one.

And read what the officers in the
field told GAO:

“It
would be impossible for USCIS to verify all of the key
information or interview all individuals related to the
millions of applications it adjudicates each
year—approximately 7.5 million applications in fiscal
year 2005—without seriously compromising its
service-related objectives…”

[Bryanna question: service?
To whom?]

“For
example, adjudicators at all four service centers we
spoke with told us that operations management seemed to
be almost exclusively focused on reducing the backlog in
order to meet production goals….”

“At one
service center the

union representing adjudicators
filed a grievance in
June 2005 claiming that proposed new performance
standards for adjudicators were unrealistic and would
compromise the quality of adjudication decisions….”


“Adjudicators we interviewed at one service center said
that whenever operations management communicated with
them about practicing more discretion in issuing
requests for additional evidence, they believed it was
primarily intended to put more pressure on them to
process applications faster, which in turn they said
puts additional pressure on them to not to request
additional evidence when making

eligibility
decisions…..

Who is

pressuring adjudicators
not to do their jobs?

We have heard about the

benefits of a guest worker program
and we have heard
from the

White House
that a guest worker program is the
easiest solution.

But try this on for size:

Our government is not capable of
handling

roughly 13-20 million
temporary worker applications
when our illegal alien population suddenly becomes
eligible through guest worker legislation.

Because USCIS can`t handle what
it already has.

It would be an irresponsible Act of
Congress signed into law by an even more irresponsible
President. But then again, it wouldn`t be the first time
that has happened.

The GAO report comes shortly before
the Senate resumes debate on guest worker
legislation…maybe some Senators will actually read it
before voting.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda…the bottom
line is: a guest worker program can`t be done.


Bryanna Bevens [email
her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff
for a member of the California State Assembly.