Homeland Security is rushing to recruit volunteers into its ranks to screen Americans who wish to sponsor Ukrainians fleeing their country amid the ongoing war with Russia.
The move is the latest sign that U.S. citizenship and immigration services are overwhelmed by the demands the Biden administration is placing on it, according to former officials who fear raw recruits are being sought out to ‘endorse’ all nominations.
The volunteers are meant to implement the Biden administration’s plan to welcome 100,000 Ukrainian migrants by connecting them with sponsors who have pledged to ensure newcomers are supported financially and do not become a burden for taxpayers.
Volunteers will verify requests for financial support from potential sponsors.
“This critical work ensures that US-based supporters are vetted by USCIS and are able to support Ukrainian beneficiaries, who are seeking parole in the United States,” said USCIS, an agency Homeland Security, in his call for help.
Rob Law, former chief of the USCIS Office of Policy and Strategy in the Trump administration, said the call for volunteers shows the Biden team is “not taking verification seriously.”
He said there are people at USCIS who are already trained to do this kind of work, but they are working on other Biden administration priorities, like pushing to grant more green cards faster. . That is why the agency had to launch its appeal for cattle for Ukrainians.
“They just take any volunteer corps that’s employed at the agency and give them 10 minutes of training and ‘There you go,'” said Mr. Law, who is now director of the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration at the America First. political institute.
President Biden has promised to welcome Ukrainians with what is known as “conditional release”, a permit to live and work in the United States for two years. It’s the same power used to bring 77,000 Afghans to the United States during the Biden administration’s chaotic airlift last year.
But unlike Afghans, Ukrainians are supposed to be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or legal resident who agrees to support them financially during their stay here, providing them with housing assistance, health care, and assistance in applying for government benefits or enrolling children in school.
Sponsors must prove they have sufficient income or funds to last the term of parole and must pass a background check to ensure there is no risk of human trafficking or exploitation humans.
Arriving Ukrainians do not have to prove that they have received a COVID-19 vaccine, but they must attest that they have had a medical examination. They are not required to present any documents before their arrival.
Once there, they can apply for work permits, which entitle them to certain tax advantages.
USCIS declined to answer questions about the training volunteers will receive to review requests for assistance, though it appears the lessons will be brief: the solicitation email sent to employees called it “training initial” and said the volunteers “would start treatment the day after the training.
The agency claims to have received 142,000 requests from potential supporters.
About 100,000 Ukrainians have been allowed to come, and more than 64,000 have already been admitted as part of the effort, known as Uniting for Ukraine.
An additional 99,000 Ukrainians have been admitted since March 24 through channels outside of Uniting for Ukraine.
USCIS wouldn’t say why it had to turn to volunteers to help, but it’s become a frequent solution under the Biden administration as the agency struggles to handle the workload Mr. Biden has given it. imposed. This includes welcoming Afghans during last year’s airlift and helping the wave of border migrants that began at the start of the Biden administration.
Even as he takes on the new duties, USCIS says he is struggling financially and has had to ask Congress for an infusion of cash. USCIS is supposed to be funded by fees paid by immigrants themselves.
Biden officials have accused the Trump administration of leaving the agency in financial trouble.
But Mr Law said the call for volunteers is further proof that the problem was not Mr Trump’s management, but rather that he was carrying out too many assignments for which he was unprepared.
“There is an institutional failure within USCIS,” Mr. Law said.
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