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Government Security News January 2017 Digital Edition

Government Security News January 2017 Digital Edition. Available on the GSN Magazine Website at

USCIC updates how

USCIC updates how processing times are posted: specific dates rather than weeks or months By Michele Waslin United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that beginning on January 4, 2017, it has changed how it posts processing times. Rather that listing weeks or months, it now provides specific dates. This is a small initial step toward providing better customer service and giving individuals and employers the information they need about their immigration cases. However, the dates listed are still not based on real-time information and are outdated when they are published. USCIS provides its customers with estimates of how long the waiting time is because individuals who submit petitions or applications for immigration benefits to USCIS often have to wait lengthy periods for the transaction to be completed. These processing times are posted on the USCIS website. Processing times are available by location (e.g. National Benefits Center, service center, or field office) and by filing type. The American Immigration Council’s fact sheet on processing times explains how these processing times are calculated. In the past, processing times were listed in one of two ways: 1. Processing times related to publicly-announced production goals. USCIS established production goals for certain filing types. For example, USCIS set a five month processing time goal for N-400s (naturalization applications). If the office was meeting or exceeding the goal, meaning applications were being processed in five months or less, the processing time was listed as five months. In other words, the customer doesn’t have specific information about how long applications are actually taking, just that they are being processed within five months. 2. If the office was not meeting its production goal, the chart listed the date of the last application the office worked on at the time the data was sent to the Office of Performance and Quality (OPQ), which is the office that regularly calculates processing times. This does not mean 12 that all applications received as of that date had been adjudicated. According to the USCIS announcement, the agency will now be using the second method for publishing processing times. The tables available on the USCIS processing times webpage now list a “Processing Cases As of Date.” Presumably, the date listed is the date of the last application that particular office worked on at the moment the processing data was sent to OPQ. This new format also means that USCIS no longer informs the public of its processing goals. While having a date is helpful in that it is less confusing, it does not resolve all problems. For example, USCIS does not post processing times for all applications, and processing times do not reflect any delays related to Requests for Evidence. Furthermore, processing times are generally out of date by the time they are published. This is because OPQ takes time to receive and aggregate data from the various offices, calculate processing times, and publish them. Months can pass between the first day of the performance month and publication. Currently, the processing times were last updated De- More on page 49

States and localities respond to Donald Trump’s immigration plans By Michele Waslin With all the focus on what to expect at the national level on immigration under President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, it’s easy to overlook the states and localities, which are reacting to the presidential elections and previewing their intentions on immigration. Elections for governor were held in 12 states, with Democrats and Republicans each winning six. Republicans increased the number of states in which they control both legislative chambers from 30 to 32 states. Republicans have control of the governor’s office and both legislative houses in 24 states. Democrats control both Houses in 13 states, and have full control in six. Given the harsh anti-immigrant tone Trump took, some states and localities are doubling down on protecting their immigrant communities, push back on federal attempts to increase deportations, and make their communities more welcoming for all residents. For example: • In Chicago, a $1 million legal defense fund for immigrants was recently created. Mayor Rahm Emanuel also promised to keep Chicago a “sanctuary city” and restrict its collaboration with federal enforcement authorities, even if the city loses federal funding as a result. • In New York City, Mayor Bill De- Blasio has voiced strong support for immigrants and the city’s protective policies. Most recently, he vowed that the federal government would not be able to use information from municipal ID cards to target immigrants for deportation. Approximately 900,000 New York CIty residents have these ID cards and had submitted documents proving identity and city residency in order to receive them. 13 • In California, lawmakers are considering a series of bills to protect unauthorized immigrants from deportation. One bill would create a fund to pay for legal counsel for immigrants facing deportation. Another would train criminal defense attorneys in immigration law so they could better protect their clients. The California Values Act (SB 54) would ban state and local police from performing the functions of a federal immigration officer and would create “safe zones” at public schools, hospitals, and courthouses. - Also in California, the Dignity Not Detention Act was re-introduced. It