Friday, October 9, 2009

Meeting with the new Director of USCIS, Alejandro Mayorkas

On October 1, 2009, one of our partners attended a meeting at which the new Director of USCIS, Alejandro Mayorkas, provided a glimpse of the new direction of USCIS.

According to Director Mayorkas, USCIS’ current focus is on the following:

1) Engaging the public
The Director stated that meeting the community and understanding people’s perspectives and desires was a prime focus of USCIS. In fact, at this time, he has been traveling and will continue to travel across our nation reaching out to communities to gain insight into immigrant needs;

2) Consistency, uniformity and predictability of the agency
The Director acknowledged that there is lack of regularity between USCIS offices throughout the nation. He is trying to resolve this issue so that there are straight forward instructions for applicants, clearer guidance to officers adjudicating applications and a better handling of the expectations of applicants; USCIS hopes to implement new regulations and policies to rectify the situation;

3) Efficiency
USCIS is a fee based agency. The currency collected from filing fees are being used more efficiently. For example, some of the finances were recently spent on recreating the USCIS website;

4) Transparency
As USCIS is a public agency, it needs to be more open and candid about many things such as changes within departments and the status of pending applications; per Director Mayorkas, the first step in fixing this problem was to create a new website where an applicant can monitor his or her own case more easily than in the past;

5) The Future
USCIS is modernizing its current practices, including moving from a paper-based facility to databases to give the community more access to information pertinent to their cases. USCIS is also preparing for the passing of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

When asked further questions regarding Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Director Mayorkas commented vaguely that the President and Secretary Napolitano are managing the details of the reform. USCIS’ role is to implement the reform when it is passed. He did not add anything further regarding this topic.

We will closely monitor the upcoming changes within USCIS and report back on whether the changes are effective. We will also be paying close attention to any further news regarding Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

We are encouraged by the willingness of Director Mayorkas to meet with the public to provide insight into his vision for the future of USCIS. We hope that he can implement positive changes and provide better, more equitable service to the public.