Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, December 3, 2014
Department of Homeland Security officials wasted little time in ramping up for President Obama’s amnesty, posting 1,000 job openings the day after his announcement and announcing it already has space for hundreds of employees at a new location in Arlington, Virginia–an indication that it had laid its plans well before Mr. Obama’s announcement.
And even though Mr. Obama said his policy is temporary, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is hiring the employees for permanent positions, at salaries of up to $157,000 a year, according to the job postings listed on the official federal jobs website.
“USCIS is taking steps to open a new operational center in Crystal City, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, to accommodate about 1,000 full-time, permanent federal and contract employees in a variety of positions and grade levels,” the agency said in an internal email to employees on Monday. “The initial workload will include cases filed as a result of the executive actions on immigration announced on Nov. 20, 2014.”
But Ken Palinkas, head of the labor union that represents USCIS employees, said he couldn’t see any way that the agency could hire enough good people in time to process the millions of applications that are expected.
“I can’t see how they could,” he told The Washington Times. “I think what they’re leaning toward is just getting the paperwork done regardless of who does it. You have to vet these people.”
The employees will need to undergo checks, and some will require security clearances, which is an even longer process.
Louis D. Crocetti Jr., who used to run USCIS’s fraud unit until he retired in 2011, said for the agency to properly ramp up its new policy, hire and train staff would take about a year. That’s far longer than the time frame the Obama administration has talked about.
“I don’t see how they could possibly recruit, hire, screen, go through all the national security background checks and train everyone within six months,” said Mr. Crocetti, who is now principal at the Immigration Integrity group. “That would be a very, very steep challenge, one that could only result in consequences of poorly trained staff.”
Mr. Crocetti said fraud will be a major problem for the new amnesty–though just how big is anyone’s guess, because the administration has turned a blind eye to those warnings, he said.
On Tuesday, while testifying to Congress, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged that fraud was a concern.
“Fraudulent applications have the potential to undermine the whole process,” he told the House Committee on Homeland Security. “In the planning for the implementation, I want to be sure that we take a hard look at best practices to avoid fraudulent applications, fraudulent misuse of the program. That’s a priority of mine.”
Of the 1,000 new jobs USCIS has advertised for, seven are designated as part of the fraud-detection unit. Their pay ranges from $75,621 a year to $138,136 a year, according to the job postings.
Immigration services officers fresh out of school are slated to make as little as $34,415, while top-level supervisors will make up to $157,100 a year. The postings said there are “many vacancies” for those high-level jobs.