Michael D. Shear, New York Times, December 25, 2014
This is how a bureaucracy grows.
Only 10 days after President Obama announced in a prime-time address that millions of undocumented people would soon “be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation,” an electronic bulletin reached inboxes across Washington. In a crucial detail that Mr. Obama left out, the Citizenship and Immigration Services agency said it was immediately seeking 1,000 new employees to work in an office building to process “cases filed as a result of the executive actions on immigration.”
The likely cost: nearly $8 million a year in lease payments and more than $40 million for annual salaries.
The announcement of the new “operational center” among the chain restaurants and high-rises of Crystal City, a Northern Virginia neighborhood used for overflow from the federal agencies in Washington, offers a glimpse into how swiftly a president’s words can produce bigger government. It also demonstrates the bureaucracy’s ability to swing into action, even during an extended power struggle between the president and Congress.
Although conservatives in Congress are vowing to attack the president’s executive action on immigration by blocking the funding for it, plans for the small army of workers are moving forward. The action is part of a larger trend: From 2001 to 2012–mostly after the Sept. 11 attacks–the government added about 180,000 federal employees, for a total of more than 4.3 million, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
At the citizenship and immigration agency, officials said they had signed a $7.8 million lease in a gleaming new building, which they will occupy starting next month. During a recent speech in Los Angeles, the agency’s director, León Rodríguez, said that 5,000 people had already applied for the Crystal City jobs.
In the bulletin that the agency sent out, dated Dec. 1, the word “TODAY!” is printed in red next to a dozen jobs with titles like special assistant, management program analyst and immigration services officer. By the time the new Republican Congress takes up the debate about funding for the president’s immigration plan early next year, many of those new jobs are likely to be filled.
The immigration agency officials said the fees would ultimately pay for lease and salary costs. But because the fees are not yet being collected, officials said the initial lease and salary payments would be made from other fees, which would be replenished when the new program was up and running.