On June 19, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a “Statement” in regard to the Supreme Court decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Basically, the statement called out the Supreme Court, stating that the high court’s decision “has no basis in law” and then follows with other legal conjectures and conclusions which demonstrate an alarming and improper bias at a government agency. It is clear from the choice of words in the statement that USCIS leadership has no regard or respect for the foundations of our judicial system. The statement willfully ignores the fact that the Supreme Court rejected the claim that DACA was an illegal program. More importantly, USCIS’ opinion of the Supreme Court decision frankly does not matter and is inappropriate.
USCIS was created after 9/11 to be the adjudicatory arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). USCIS clearly posts on its own website the following mission statement: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”
But, on June 19th, that mission seems to have changed without warning when USCIS posted what essentially is a rant about DACA and how the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, handled the case. USCIS’s mission is to administer the law and specifically to “efficiently and fairly adjudicate requests for immigration benefits” as stated in its mission statement. But here USCIS has stepped way beyond those boundaries by attempting to declare what is or is not legal, which is clearly the province of the Supreme Court.
It is not up to USCIS to determine which programs or applications they will or will not adjudicate. The June 19th statement amounts to not only inappropriate bluster, but it further undermines the agency’s waning integrity by evincing clear bias and politicized motivations.
No one will argue that our system doesn’t need reform. In fact, USCIS is overworked, under-resourced and in dire need of Congressional intervention. However, the fact the agency needs reform doesn’t mean it can cast aside its responsibility to serve as a fair and impartial agency. Perhaps now more than ever, government institutions must strive to restore the faith of Americans in the integrity of government.
This latest political tirade by a spokesperson at USCIS makes it all the more clear that Congress must pass the Case Backlog and Transparency Act of 2020 which would ensure much needed accountability at the agency and send a clear message that Congress and the Judiciary are equal branches of government as our Constitution dictates.