DENVER, Colo. -- The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation today praised an Administration plan to overhaul the nation 's immigration services agency, using a consortium of private-sector contractors to alter the way the government handles millions of visa applications, the citizenship process and work permits. The five-year plan to convert U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services case-management system from paper to electronic systems –and outsourcing the implementation to private companies that can easily handle the workload – is part of a new plan the Foundation has been pushing for years.
Helen E. Krieble, President of the Foundation, said “the use of private companies could reduce backlogs, speed up the work permit process, and put administration into the hands of people who are good at it.” She added, “The bureaucratic system has frustrated both employers and workers for ye ars, and must be replaced by a sys tem relying on incentives, such as the profit motive, to get the job done.”
Krieble has met numerous times with Administration officials and others in recent years, urging a private-sector contracting approach to various aspects of the illegal immigration dilemma. She has advocated the use of smart cards, modern technology, fingerprints and biometrics, private employment agencies and background checks. She says foreign workers do not have to wait years for approval, and border control would be much easier, with such a practical system. “This new proposal is an excellent first step, and it will demonstrate clearly the ability of the government to achieve important national security goals, using the quick responsiveness and the cost competitiveness of the private sector.
The new electronic system, called the “transformation initiative,” will permit government agencies and law enforcement personnel throughout the country to access immigration records faster and more accurately. Krieble says such records could also make it much easier for employers to check the immigration status of potential workers if it were also available to them. That is not part of the current plan, but Krieble says it is a logical next step.
The government says, in addition to initiatives to link digital fingerprints to unique identification numbers, the plan will create a lifelong digital record for applicants. That could eliminate the need to file millions of paper forms, and enable border agents, employers and policemen to instantly check the legal status of foreign workers. Krieble says that will allow employers to hire legal workers they currently have trouble f inding, and give workers a means to come out of the shadows and work legally.
Krieble points out the need to fix two remaining problems that also contribute to the problem: a bureaucratic system for issuing the visas themselves (which takes much too long), and an artificial limit on the number of workers allowed. She says the number should not be unlimited, but rather tied closely to the demands of the labor market rather than “picked out of the sky” like the current limit.
“This new proposal is an excellent start toward modernizing a badly broken system,” said Krieble. “A couple more importa nt changes would go a long way toward fixing one of America’s most frustrating problems, so I hope the new Administration and new Congress will seriously consider my proposal to build on this work and take it to the next level.”
Posted on Thu, November 20, 2008
by The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation