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Administration rebrands controversial immigration post to skirt funding cut-off

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A small thing as little as a name change has Congress up in arms in regards to political divisions and immigration positions. The Obama administration is currently being accused of re-branding a controversial immigration job that Congress voted to defund months before.

Position only changes title even though defunded by Congress

The immigration job known as a “public advocate” serving both legal and illegal immigrants was previously terminated by Congress, but as of February 2012, the term “public advocate” was changed to deputy assistant director of “Custody Program and Community Outreach.” The outrage ensues as the job of this position remained exactly the same with only the name changing. This position was created mainly to serve as an oversight job and help legal and illegal immigrants who were facing removal proceedings. Lawmakers in opposition to this job say it is a waste of taxpayer money and is advocating for people to break the law. President Obama has not answered regarding the accusation of “abusing his authority to blow off Congress.”

Position could lead to fraud and abuse

In 2012, when this position was proposed, Rep. Diane Black immediately wanted to defund the job calling it “an ill-conceived lobbyist position.” She believes that using taxpayer dollars to fund a position that advocates for individuals who have broken laws and illegally entered the country is ridiculous and a waste of money. She points at a provision part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 which reads that “None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to provide funding for the position of Public Advocate within U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement.” What’s more is Chris Crane, the president of the National ICE Council which represents 7,600 ICE officers and agents called the position “nothing but waste, fraud and abuse.”

Position may help protect immigrants

Not everyone agrees that the position is completely useless, though. Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez says that the ICE Public Advocate is the last person to call when all else fails with immigration. This is an essential position to keep ICE accountable for their actions and immigrants safe. While opinions differ on how useful the actual position is, the fact that the bill was defunded and one side still went ahead and changed the name in a “sneaky” fashion does nothing except add distrust in regards to legislation. In a time when immigration reform is ready to be voted on and no one is making an effort to compromise, stories similar to this one make it difficult to believe that a compromise is in the near future.

If you are looking for a dedicated immigration attorney, have questions regarding immigration reform, applying for a visa or attaining legal status, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.

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