Emilio González -- director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services defended proposed increases in immigration fees in a Miami Herald interview.
The chief of immigration services is pressing ahead with hefty application fee increases despite skepticism among critics about his plans to revolutionize an agency long derided by immigrants as inefficient, unfriendly and beyond hope.In this earlier post, I blogged about the proposed increases. My opinion hasn't changed.
Fee increases, scheduled to take effect in June, would raise the cost of applying for a green card from $325 to $905 and citizenship from $330 to $595 -- generating about $1 billion more a year than the agency now has in its annual budget.
In an exclusive interview with The Miami Herald last week, Emilio González -- director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services -- promised higher fee revenue will help end delays, move offices in run-down buildings to comfortable new facilities, replace paper applications that must be mailed with electronic forms that can be filed online and turn rude or inattentive employees into customer-friendly staff.
González concedes past fee increases by the agency, once part of the old Immigration and Naturalization Service, didn't always speed the process.
''For too many years, immigration, INS, was always sort of like the . . . stepchild of the Department of Justice,'' González said. ``It was just sort of like an adjunct agency out there that did the best they could with the resources given to them, and what I wanted to do was . . .turn it on its head. This is a world-class agency. This is the United States of America.''
I've blogged previously about this rate increase. It is outrageous coming from an agency that is both terribly mismanaged and ignorant of the laws it is supposed to be enforcing.If you want examples of how screwed up, click here and here. One involves a US citizen mother kept separated from her child because of this idiotic agency.
If the MSM wants to cause public outrage(Not very likely to happen in TFM's opinion) at this rate increase, I'd suggest a more sympathetic party that will be paying through the nose due to these increases. Like members of the US military.
Every year thousands of our military service members stationed abroad marry foreign nationals. I did just that back in 1989. Blogger GI in Korea is another example of a US serviceman marrying someone he met while stationed overseas. Our military isn't the highest paid profession and now some will be taking a big hit in the wallet because of this proposed fee increase. Do you believe in supporting our fighting men and women or think all immigrants should pay a high price for legally immigrating here? I continue to advocate that our service men and women should get a break when dealing with immigration. In both lower fees and better, faster service. A soldier serving in Iraq has enough stress to deal with and shouldn't have more financial burdens placed upon them by our government.
His plans call for 1,500 new immigration officers, online applications and 39 new facilities -- all aimed at processing green cards or citizenship applications in six months or less. Four of the new sites in South Florida would replace offices inside the old immigration building at the corner of Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 79th Street.The Herald calls this plans grandoise as would I. I'd believe them when they happen.
Within five years, he said, immigrants could be summoned to interviews at facilities resembling bank branches. Officers would review applications by calling up records on computer screens instead of retrieving them on paper from offices across the country or from piles of millions of old files stored at an underground cave in Missouri.
Immigrants without computers would be able to use terminals at agency offices to file applications with help from federal employees.
Immigration advocates are unhappy, calling the proposed fees outrageous. But even if immigrants can pay -- Citizenship and Immigration Services will waive the fee in hardship cases -- some advocates doubt the agency will deliver better service.I'd believe the changes when they happen. Otherwise I'm skeptical.
''The goal is a good one, but our experience is promises of improvement after fee increases have not been met,'' said Flavia Jimenez, an immigration and policy analyst with the National Council of La Raza in Washington.
Also, some political observers predict González won't be able to accomplish much as the 2008 presidential election draws near.
''He can promise the world, but he is not going to be around when it fails,'' said Miami attorney Tammy Fox-Isicoff, a former immigration official.
Rick at SOTP also thinks the fee changes are uncalled for. I agrees, CIS needs to get its ship in order first. For a bureaucracy, that's asking for a miracle but should be considered mandatory.
Linked to- Bullwinkle, Outside the Beltway, Right Wing Nation,