National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

Blog & Updates

(Re)organizing for Reform

January 13, 2010 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

USCIS Org Chart

On January 11, there was a barely-noticed announcement from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that it has made some changes in its organization.  The agency has re-arranged its organizational chart, and in doing so it appears to be giving more prominence to offices that will be very much in the center of implementing comprehensive immigration reform.

The organization will go from three "Directorates" to seven.  Each of the division offices under the old Domestic Operations Directorate have been elevated to the Directorate level—Service Center Operations, Field Operations, and Customer Service.  In addition, the Division of Fraud Detection and National Security has been elevated to the Directorate level. 

These changes, along with the establishment of a Management Directorate and an Enterprise Services Directorate, have been made, according to the statement, to increase efficiency in the organization.  The changes also appear to position the agency to handle the tidal wave of work that will come with the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform.

Field and Service Center Operations, along with Customer Service, will be on the front lines of providing information to and receiving applications from millions of immigrants who will benefit from reform.  The primary mission of the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS) is to "detect, deter, and combat immigration benefit fraud and to strengthen USCIS’ efforts aimed at ensuring benefits are not granted" to persons who should not obtain them.  With the technology available to the agency today, FDNS is in a far better position to detect fraud than the old Immigration and Naturalization Services was during the last legalization program in the mid-1980s.

USCIS is often derided as being inefficient.  It has been making incremental improvements (with periodic setbacks) over the last several years.  We look forward to seeing what new efficiencies are wrung from the new arrangement.  However, it will take more than shuffling boxes in an organizational chart for successful implementation of comprehensive immigration reform.  The responsibilities of the new Directorates can only be successfully carried out if there are sufficient funds in the budget for them, and if Congress gives the agency the funding it will need to meet the extraordinary challenge of bringing 12 million immigrants out of the shadows and into the system.

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