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Bill To Authorize And Reform Key Immigration Agencies


On May 11, 2017, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob

Goodlatte introduced two bills to authorize and reauthorize key

immigration component agencies at the U.S. Department of Homeland

Security with the goal of ensuring the U.S. immigration laws are

enforced and maintain the integrity of America’s immigration

system.1 The bill was sent to the House as a whole for

consideration on May 24, 2017.2 Authorization bills

direct how federal funds should or should not be used and are

typically made for single fiscal years, but are often renewed in

subsequent law.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authorization


The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authorization Act

(H.R. 2406) makes reforms to Homeland Security Investigations and

Enforcement and Removal Operations within Immigration and Customs

Enforcement (ICE). The bill would also codify the Victims of

Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE), an office created by

the Trump Administration to provide access to information and

resources to victims of crimes committed by removable aliens as

well as to the families of victims. This bill would increase the

number of ICE officers.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Reauthorization


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Reauthorization

Act (H.R. 2407) reauthorizes USCIS, which is agency that is tasked

with processing immigrant and nonimmigrant benefits petitions for

those seeking temporary visas, lawful permanent residence,

international adoption, and others. USCIS also adjudicates

naturalization applications and manages the E-Verify system.

Roles and Responsibilities within USCIS

The text of the Act establishes USCIS discusses the role of the

USCIS director, agents and officers of USCIS, and the USCIS Deputy

Director. The section also details the duties and roles within the

Office of Homeland Security Investigations, Office of Enforcement

and Removal Operations, Office of Management and Administration,

and others.3 Specifically, under the bill, the USCIS

Director is required to have at least five years of management

experience. The Director will be responsible for running the agency

and establishing the national immigration services policies and

priorities. The bill authorizes the Field Operations Directorate

whose Associate Director is responsible for managing all USCIS

field offices as well as overseeing the adjudication of immigration

benefits applications and petitions, applicant interviews,

naturalization ceremonies, and background checks for those applying

or petitioning for benefits. It also authorizes the Service Center

Operations Directorate whose Associate Director oversees the five

USCIS Service Centers responsible for adjudicating benefits for

petitions that do not require interviews.

The bill codifies ethics guidelines to prevent USCIS employees

from improperly influencing the outcome of a case. The bill

authorizes the Refugee, Asylum and International Operations

Directorate whose Associate Director is responsible for overseeing

refugee application adjudication and interviews, asylum application

adjudication and interviews, and international adoptions and other

humanitarian programs such as parole.

Fraud Prevention and National Security

In response to much of the current rhetoric that speaks to

preventing fraud in the immigration system and protecting national

security, the bill strengthens the mission of USCIS to

“efficiently adjudicate immigration benefits petitions and

applications for foreign nationals seeking legal immigration status

in the United States and those seeking to become Americans, in a

manner consistent with detecting and preventing fraud, while

protecting American jobs and working conditions, and while ensuring

the national security and welfare of the American people.” It

authorizes the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate

whose Associate Director is responsible for ensuring immigration

benefits are not granted to individuals who pose a threat to

national security or public safety, or who seek to defraud our

immigration system.

Citizenship Responsibilities

The bill authorizes the Office of Citizenship to promote

instruction and training on citizenship responsibilities, as well

as assimilation, for eligible aliens who are interested in becoming

naturalized citizens of the United States. The bill ensures the

External Affairs Directorate office provides clear, accurate, and

timely responses to inquiries from applicants or petitioners, and

is transparent with the American people.4


Many recent bills have addressed E-verify. For example, the

E-Verify Bill re-introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman

Chuck Grassley in January would permanently authorize the E-Verify

program and require employers to use the E-Verify

program.5 Like the bill introduced by Senator Grassley,

The bill introduced by Goodlatte bill makes voluntary E-Verify

permanent. It also authorizes the Immigration Record and Identity

Services Directorate whose Associate Director is responsible for

managing E-Verify and the SAVE program, as well as overseeing

USCIS’ biometrics collection services and historical records

management and storage.


Congressman Goodlatte stated, “In addition to reauthorizing

these two agencies, we also need to make a number of changes to our

laws to improve immigration enforcement and prevent fraud and abuse

in the system. I look forward to bringing the ICE Authorization Act

and the USCIS Reauthorization Act before the House Judiciary

Committee in the coming weeks.”


1 https://goodlatte.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=877

2 https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr2406

3 https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2407

4 https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/051117-USCIS-Authorization.pdf

5 https://www.grassley.senate.gov/news/news-releases/grassley-e-verify-bill-promotes-accountability-employers

The content of this article is intended to provide a general

guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought

about your specific circumstances.

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