Perhaps it has been too long since USCIS has truly been held accountable for its actions that it has become desensitized to the legal constraints under which it is permitted to operate. The USCIS is not given carte blanche to make whatever changes or interpretations it wants to long-standing immigration law, without first complying with the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”). Yet, twice in the last two months the USCIS has issued “memos” that so dramatically change the framework under which these key programs operate, that it has clearly violated the APA.
What Happens When USCIS Breaks The Law?
USCIS has taken ignoring Federal Law to a new level with its recent actions. Of course we all know that the USCIS has been illegally changing the rules as they apply to individual cases for the last several years by engaging in “rulemaking by RFE;” making ridiculous requests for evidence, not based on any legal requirement, but rather, based upon someone’s bizarre notion of what they think the law should be, not what it really is. Now, however, with the two newest “Neufeld Memos” the USCIS has simply gone too far.
The Neufeld memo on the EB-5 program, essentially makes that job creation program unworkable, and the Neufeld Memo on the H-1B program, literally changes decades of established policy on the most important visa allowing U.S. companies to hire foreign nationals. The USCIS, without any input from the users of the program (really, there was no input), has broken the camel’s back. Absent an immediate withdrawal of these memos, it is quite clear that in order to keep these programs workable, additional action will have to be taken. AILA USCIS HQ Liaison Committee has sent to USCIS Chief Counsel Roxana Bacon a detailed letter explaining how the USCIS has fundamentally eviscerated the H-1B program, and has clearly violated the APA. I strongly urge you to read it, to understand the depths to which the USCIS has delved in its war on the H-1B program.
I have no doubt that the USCIS’s intention in issuing these law-altering memos is to somehow curry favor with certain Senators who share a concern about the H-1B and the EB-5 programs, in regards to the fraud that exists in them. No one disputes that fact that some bad users have abused this program; some intentionally, others ignorantly. But, changing the rules to prohibit the legal and correct use of the program to catch bad actors is not the way to make a program work effectively. Enforcing existing laws against fraud, and not classifying legitimate industries as evil, is the way to go about cleansing the program of inappropriate users. The USCIS’s own failure to police the programs cannot justify what they have just done.
Here is a simple request to Director Mayorkas. When the your agency is going to issue a major policy change, perhaps you might want to ask users of your “service” whether what you want to do accomplishes its true purpose. I can assure you, that these two recent memos do not accomplish what you think they do, nor what you may have been told they will do. There is only one solution to the crisis caused by the recent pronouncement. To paraphrase President Ronald Reagan: Mr. Mayorkas, Withdraw Those Memos!