Integrity Legal

13th Aug 2009

As mentioned in previous posts on this blog, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service  (USCIS) is the relatively new incarnation of the agency formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Currently USCIS is headed by a director who reports to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Since the election of President Barack Obama there have been many new appointments to the upper echelons of the United States Federal bureaucracy. This week has seen the appointment of  a new Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. Through their website, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is reporting information on the appointment:

“Director Alejandro Mayorkas was confirmed on August 7, 2009, to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A hearing to consider his nomination was held on June 24, 2009. On July 28, 2009, the Judiciary Committee ordered the nomination reported to the Senate for consideration.”

We here at Integrity Legal wish to congratulate Mr. Mayorkas on his recent appointment and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors as Director of USCIS. Many proposed changes are in store for USCIS in the coming months and years and Mr. Mayorkas will oversee what will likely be great change within the agency.

Until reading this report, I was unaware that USCIS Director’s even needed Senatorial approval before taking office. Many United States Federal appointments must be confirmed by the United States Senate before the appointee will be allowed to take office. I was aware that this process was common for high ranking American officials like cabinet appointees or Supreme Court Justices, but I was under the misperception that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service was headed by a career federal civil servant and was not a political appointment. That being said, it makes a certain degree of sense to have the holder of this office politically appointed. USCIS is charged with bringing immigration policies into practice on behalf of the administration and as a result USCIS wields a tremendous amount of power with regard to how federal immigration law is practically implemented. Therefore, to keep USCIS policy in line with that of the administration it makes sense to politically appoint the head of that agency.

There are career civil servants who work for USCIS as the agency must remain functional during periods in which a director has yet to be confirmed by the US Senate. Career officers are appointed largely based upon merit and politics likely does not factor into their advancement within the agency.

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