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Ombudsman’s Third Annual Conference: Working Together to Improve Immigration Services

Posted by Maria Odom, Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman

Today, the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman office hosted its third annual conference at the National Archives, a building that reminds us of the contributions that immigrants have made – and continue to make – to the United States. Bringing together nearly 300 participants from across the country, including White House Domestic Policy Council’s Senior Policy Director for Immigration Felicia Escobar, today’s event focused on ways we can work together to improve immigration services at DHS.

From the start of this Administration, the Department has worked to fundamentally change how we approach the challenge of building a stronger, more effective, and more just immigration system.  At DHS, we take our immigration responsibilities seriously and the Ombudsman’s Office plays a key role in assisting thousands of individuals and employers each year who experience challenges in the processing of their immigration case. When it comes to immigration, we are working hard at DHS to strike the right balance between smart enforcement, the sensible use of agency discretion, and a more just and fair immigration system.

Over the past year, we have improved the way we serve the American public. Last June, DHS announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process, allowing young people who meet the guidelines to seek a two year provisional legal status to remain in the United States.  Our office played a key role in this effort by assisting with individual cases, sharing stakeholder feedback with USCIS and suggesting improvements to the application process. Already, more than 580,000 individuals have requested deferred action, and after a thorough review of each of those cases, including a background check, more than 474,000requests have been approved, allowing these young people to continue to contribute to the country they call home. While impactful and necessary, these efforts are not a permanent fix, which is why we’ve also continued to be a strong advocate for comprehensive immigration reform.

I’ve heard from stakeholders all over the country about how our current immigration system isn’t working for businesses, workers, immigrants, or our economy—and I think we all agree that it is time to fix it. DHS stands ready to work with leaders and advocates to ensure that our nation remains a land of opportunity for those seeking to contribute to our nation’s prosperity.

As these efforts continue, it is vital that both government and the public collaborate to address existing issues that impact individuals and employers navigating our current immigration system.  

For more information about the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, visit here.

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