Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today delivered the following remarks during the House Judiciary Committee’s markup of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2407).
Chairman Goodlatte: After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security as a Cabinet level agency dedicated to protecting the United States and its citizens from threats to our national security.
Congress moved to DHS component agencies from other Cabinet Departments. For instance, the U.S. Coast Guard, which helps protect U.S. waters, was moved from the Department of Treasury. And the Transportation Security Administration was moved from the Department of Transportation.
DHS was also given control over immigration services and enforcement. The responsibilities of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, previously part of the Department of Justice, were moved to DHS.
Specifically, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 created the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The name was subsequently changed to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). But the component agency, just like the vast majority of such DHS agencies, has never been reauthorized. So the U.S. Code still refers to USCIS as the “Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.”
And many of USCIS’ offices or directorates have never been authorized. Accordingly, each House Committee with jurisdiction over DHS component agencies is working toward a common goal of reauthorizing the Department, and is thus marking up bills to authorize components within its jurisdiction.
H.R. 2407, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Reauthorization Act, does exactly what its title suggests.
Specifically, the bill reauthorizes the agency and parts of USCIS that were previously authorized, such as the position of Director, the Office of Policy and Strategy, the Office of Chief Counsel, and the Office of Citizenship.
H.R. 2407 also authorizes components of USCIS that were created subsequent to passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Those include the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate, the Immigration Records and Identity Services Directorate, the Field Operations Directorate, and the Refugee Asylum, and International Operations Directorate.
Newly created by H.R. 2407 are the Office of Professional Responsibility, the position of Deputy Director, and the External Affairs Directorate.
Of course, H.R. 2407 does not hamstring the Director in the case where a new USCIS component is needed. Instead it authorizes the Director to establish additional offices, directorates, and officers as determined necessary to carry out the Director’s duties.
H.R. 2407 also requires transparency at USCIS by putting in statute current USCIS policy to prevent undue influence over the decisions made by adjudicators during application or petition processing.
And the bill makes the voluntary E-Verify program permanent. The program has been around in pilot form since the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act created it in 1996. After 21 years, we should take the guesswork out of its reauthorization.
H.R. 2407 also moves USCIS administrative appellate functions to a DHS-level component to be created by the Director, so as to ensure the independence of all administrative appellate decisions.
And finally, the bill helps American families who adopt children internationally by prohibiting USCIS from charging adoptive parents an exorbitant fee for a Certificate of Citizenship. Pursuant to a USCIS Fee Schedule which went into effect last December, USCIS began charging such parents $1,170.00 for the certificate. It was an increase of 95% over the previous fee. International adoption is already expensive enough. We should have in place policies to encourage it, not discourage it.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Reauthorization Act is a much needed piece of legislation. I urge my colleagues to support it.
I yield back the balance of my time.
For more on today’s markup, click here.