Signs of fraying on the proposed comprehensive immigration bill became more pronounced as a union representing 12,000 federal immigration officers said Monday that his group is joining similar federal unions that are opposed to the immigration bill written by the Gang of Eight.


The president of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Council, Kenneth Palinkas, said his union was never consulted by the lawmakers writing the bill, which he claims was written with special interests in mind and fails to address “some of the most serious concerns the USCIS Council has about the current system.”

The union represents officers of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for processing visas and other immigration papers.

Palinkas says the bill doesn’t address the pressure he claims is put on adjudication officers to rubber stamp applications instead of conducting diligent case reviews. He says it fails to fix the “insurmountable bureaucracy” which often prevents USCIS officers from contacting and coordinating with ICE agents in cases that should have their involvement, and doesn’t do enough to address the problem of student visa overstays.

“We are the very backbone of our nation’s immigration system and will be at the center of implementing any immigration reform,” Palinkas said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the National ICE Council, which represents more than 7,000 agents, sent a letter to Congress sharply criticizing the legislation and saying it will not support it. That means that two of the three major unions that represent the country’s immigration officers and agents oppose the immigration bill.

The Senate’s Gang of Eight spent last week marking up the immigration bill in the Judiciary Committee. Tuesday divisions within the “gang” grew after Democratic senators rejected a Republican proposal to require a biometric entry and exit system at ports of entry in the U.S.

Last Thursday, House negotiators told reporters that they had reached a tentative agreement on the bill, the specifics of which were not disclosed.


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