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For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. April 28, 2009

Current Immigration Policy Harms National and Economic Security, Former Citizenship & Immigration Services Ombudsman Calls For New Approach to U.S Immigration Policy

The administration of President Barack Obama could make the nation more secure by improving U.S. immigration processes and re-writing the nation’s policy toward temporary and permanent immigrants, a former Department of Homeland Security immigration official said today.

“Current U.S. immigration policy is doing more harm than good to U.S. national and economic security,” said former Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman Prakash Khatri.

Khatri, who now heads up the Washington-based consulting firm KPK Global Solutions, said that USCIS continues to approve visa applicants for temporary immigration benefits — such as temporary work permits— before determining their eligibility for such benefits.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of individuals who should not be in the country have obtained government documents that permitted them to work, obtain Social Security numbers, drivers licenses, and otherwise “normalize” themselves before immigration authorities determined they were ineligible for such benefits.

Khatri, who served as CIS Ombudsman from 2003 until 2008, also warned that unreasonably tight restrictions on visas that permit highly skilled professionals from other nations to work temporarily in, or emigrate to, the United States are threatening U.S. economic security.

“Instead of emigrating to the United States, increasingly large numbers of professional talent that the U.S. private sector has relied on for innovation and competitiveness in years past have stayed home or returned to their home countries,” Khatri said. “The United States, which used to be at the forefront of so many scientific developments and breakthroughs, is finding it difficult to control the export of certain sensitive technologies because those technologies are no longer produced in this country.”

He also noted that because USCIS must fund its operations from fees rather than from congressionally approved appropriations, it relies on out-of-date, multi-layered business processes to generate those fees.

“USCIS relies on its inefficiencies to generate hundreds of millions of dollars annually,” Khatri said.

Khatri called on the Obama administration to pursue the following solutions, which he said would improve U.S. immigration processes and policy, as well as national security:

Weed out ineligible benefits applicants at the outset of the visa application process, not months or years later.        

Base immigration policy for temporary and permanent workers on U.S. employers’ needs, rather than on antiquated illogical and arbitrary quotas based on applicants’ countries of origin.Remove USCIS’s incentive for lengthy, fee-generating bureaucratic processes by providing the agency with a new, more reliable funding structure.        

Take steps to slow the flow of unauthorized immigrants while welcoming immigrants with the skills needed to keep the United States competitive and in control of its economic, security, and technological destiny. 

“We need an immigration policy that reflects our needs, not our fears. We need an immigration policy that permits the best and brightest that the world has to offer to become our own,” he said. “We must never lose sight of the fact that we are a nation of immigrants.” 

Contact: Prakash Khatri, Khatri Law Firm (202) 470-0431