The appointment of US President Joe Biden to head the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been confirmed by the Senate. Ur Jaddou becomes the first woman to hold the role and ends the multi-year cycle of interim USCIS leadership.
Amid a spate of U.S. immigration measures rolled out by the Biden administration in recent months, executives appointed for agencies overseeing parts of the immigration system were still awaiting confirmation of their appointments.
For several years, the three US immigration agencies overseen by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – USCIS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) – all operated under the leadership of executives. acting. However, after a vote of 47 to 34 in the Senate, USCIS now has a confirmed leader in Jaddou.
Chain of Interim Leaders
Under the Trump administration, USCIS was led by a series of interim leaders after L. Francis Cissna left in 2019. The most notable interim leader was US immigration hardline Ken Cuccinelli, who found himself in the spotlight as he lobbied for the controversial Trump. policies to be implemented.
Cuccinelli sadly recited a revised version of the iconic Statue of Liberty poem to say that “only immigrants who can fend for themselves are welcome in America.”
USCIS has become the cornerstone of many of Trump’s controversial US immigration policies, including those on asylum, much to the anger of asylum officers.
Meanwhile, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS found itself on the verge of collapse as U.S. visa and immigration applications dried up, cutting off the primary source of funding for the agency.
Jaddou brings a new perspective
The Biden administration plans to bring a different approach to U.S. immigration policy from that of the former Trump administration, and with Jaddou at the helm, Biden is confident it will bring a new perspective.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said: “Ur has two decades of experience in immigration law, policy and administration. She will administer our nation’s immigration system in a fair and equitable manner. As the daughter of hard-working immigrants, Ur understands how immigrant families enrich our country and the challenges they face.
Jaddou previously served as Chief Legal Counsel to USCIS under former President Barack Obama and led the Biden-Harris DHS Transition Review Team before Biden took office. She was also a staunch critic of the policies of the Trump administration.
Ahead of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released the Twitter, stating: “The daughter of Mexican and Iraqi immigrants, she would be the first woman to lead USCIS. “
American asylum system
Among the tasks Jaddou will have to manage is an overhaul of the US asylum system and the future of the Obama-era Deferred Action Arrivals Program (DACA). A Texas federal judge recently ruled that DACA was illegal and blocked new claims, which are processed by USCIS.
However, the Biden administration has said it will appeal the Texas judge’s ruling. In the meantime, Mayorkas said DHS is preparing a rule to preserve DACA.
A US immigration plan, recently released by the White House, outlines plans to implement what will be a “fair” and “orderly” US asylum process, which will include measures such as authorizing immigration officers. asylum to adjudicate asylum claims for those arriving in the United States southern border.
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