April 23, 2012
It has been improperly thought out. It is improperly funded. It is improperly staffed. It has been improperly executed. It looks like DHS considers it an annoyance or very low on the agency's priority list.
As of April 17, seven months after CW permits started being submitted to the agency, only 20% of the 5,659 petitions with 11,695 beneficiaries in the system have been approved. The CW petitions represent 1,782 different employers in the CNMI. So far 16 petitions representing 18 beneficiaries (foreign workers) were denied.
Also submitted were 1,441 requests from applicants who are seeking parole status. Gulick reported that 135 of them were "permanent residents-type", including those submitted for student parole and H1 workers. A total of 761 are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
The Saipan Tribune quoted U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Honolulu district director David Gulick as defending the slow process:
David Gulick said yesterday that approval of Commonwealth-only worker petitions for over 11,000 foreign workers has been delayed mainly because of the sheer number of biometrics that need to be collected, and the difficulty of justifying spending more government resources for the CNMI when there is only a self-imposed deadline to process all these. Besides, despite the delay, foreign workers being petitioned are able to continue their legal stay in the CNMI.The DHS knew how many applications to expect. The federal ombudsman had registered the foreign workers. Even if they estimated 90% of those with umbrella permits would be applying, it is obvious that USCIS was unprepared or unwilling to properly execute the program.
Instead of fully staffing and funding the CNMI office to handle the large amount of applications for the CW Program, the DHS decided to save money, opt for inefficiency and process applications through an established office in the mainland. Of course, the office already has its own every day work flow to deal with. Of course the officials knew the processing would be untimely. Gulick admitted that the Saipan office charged with collecting biometrics is understaffed! The excuse given not to properly fund and staff the Saipan office in order to have a timely processing of applications is offensive.
The director stated:
“There was no deadline on adjudicating the petitions except what we had self-imposed,” he said.This statement suggests that the agency sees no urgency because it lacks the ability to understand the humanity of each application. It cannot see the human face behind each piece of paper that sits in the pile. USCIS does not care about the anguish, uncertainty or inability of the workers and their families to plan for their future, rather they care about cost and convenience to the agency.
USCIS had a self-imposed deadline of Jan. 31, 2012, to adjudicate CW petitions, but this turned out to be an ambitious deadline.
Of course the deadline is "ambitious" if there is inadequate staff and funding. Why attempt to move a mountain of paperwork with a couple people instead of placing a dedicated and skilled team to accomplish the job in a timely manner? You can move a mountain with a shovel or you can move a mountain with an excavating machine. Which plan is more efficient and wise?
“It is hard to justify spending that much government money, resources, when there's no penalty to the delay in the sense that the employee continues to be allowed to work and live in the United States,” Gulick told Saipan Tribune.Again, there is a lack of urgency, accountability and humanity in these words. The suffering and uncertainty escapes bureaucrats. Additionally, the uncertainty and long wait has adversely impacted business owners, employers and the economy.
Gulick's remarks were made in presentations to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and the CNMI Chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. Was there even a session scheduled to address the foreign workers who represent the majority of the people impacted by the delays?
USCIS made a point to claim that the processing of theI-128CW petitions were not behind schedule. In a defensive statement USCIS Regional Media Manager Marie Therese Sebrechts stated:
“That is not true. In reality, the USCIS California Service Center is processing CW petitions within established timeframes for those beneficiaries who have completed biometrics processing.”How long has it taken to get to the point of the biometric processing in the lengthy application process? The "timeframe" is actually whatever the USCIS determines it to be if I am not mistaken.
“If a beneficiary or beneficiaries of an I-129CW petition had their biometrics taken more than 45 days ago, and the petitioner has not received correspondence about their petition, they may contact us at CNMI.CSC@uscis.dhs.gov.”
In this regard, Sebrechts suggested that petitioners provide the following information: the receipt number of the petition (the number on the receipt that starts with “WAC”) and the name of each beneficiary, with the date(s) that each beneficiary appeared at the ASC in Garapan or another location in Tinian or Rota to have their biometrics taken.Obviously, the DHS does not have the inclination to find the needed money, time or staff to run an efficient CW Program. If this agency thinks that the timeline they have been following, whether self-imposed or not, is a good one then they are incorrect.
It would make much more sense to grant permanent residency status to the legal, long-time foreign workers who have lived and worked in the CNMI 5 or more years. Those with secure jobs and decent employers could stay and those without or seeking greener pastures would be free to leave. Where is the congressional oversight?
I would like to see USCIS address whether or not they will be allowing CW permits to employers who blatantly participate in wage theft. Start with responding about Tinian Dynasty and CHC. Will they be allowed to continue to hire foreign workers when they steal from them? What are the standards?