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Bloggings on Dysfunctional Government

by Angelo Paparelli

Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Angelo Paparelli's blog.

December 19, 2008

Immigrant Integration - Problems and an Opportunity

This month, the Task force for New Americans (chaired by the Secretary of Homeland Security) issued a generally commendable document, Building an Americanization Movement for the Twenty-first Century A Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on New Americans.  The report talks about the importance of Americanization, which it defines as:

[T]he process of integration by which immigrants become part of our communities and by which our communities and the nation learn from and adapt to their presence. Americanization means the civic incorporation of immigrants; this is the cultivation of a shared commitment to the American values of liberty, democracy and equal opportunity.

The report offers many worthy suggestions for the integration of the foreign-born into American  society.  While I laud the report, for my taste something was missing.  I would have liked to have seen more discussion of how immigrants (whether or not they become citizens) can teach Americans how to better appreciate the opportunities that America offers strivers and dreamers.  Books could be written and movies made on that subject (in fact multitudes of these can be found in libraries and video stores throughout the country).

One such American who needs to learn this lesson is an unnamed federal district court judge who failed to administer the naturalization oath in time for 1,951 otherwise eligible applicants to become citizens, register and vote in the last election.  The Ombudsman to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services described this duty-shirking judge in a December 16, 2008 Study and Recommendations On Naturalization Oath Ceremonies:

In one of USCIS’ largest districts where the court retains exclusive oath ceremony jurisdiction, the court refused to schedule sufficient additional ceremonies to accommodate the large number of naturalization applicants who had completed processing in Fall 2008, and refused to allow USCIS to administratively naturalize these applicants. As a result, 1,951 individuals did not receive the oath in time to register to vote in the 2008 elections, despite USCIS having completed processing and communicated its willingness to quickly plan additional ceremonies with the court. The District Director approached the court repeatedly requesting additional ceremonies and was told the court had already “done more than its share.” When the District Director suggested USCIS be permitted to hold administrative ceremonies the court “vehemently refused,” noting that these persons were not 45 days out from approval; these persons were instead scheduled for court ceremonies in November 2008. (Footnotes omitted; bolding added.)

Contrast the attitude of this judge with that of an immigrant from Iran, Paul Merage, who much like Horatio Alger, has chosen to give back to the America that gave him and his family a chance to succeed: 

Founded in 2004 by Paul Merage, a successful immigrant entrepreneur, the Merage Foundation for the American Dream is dedicated to promoting opportunities for immigrants in the United States. Each year the foundation provides fellowships to promising immigrant students graduating from college to help them develop leadership skills. The foundation also distributes a popular DVD series and lesson plans to schools to highlight immigrants’ contributions to the United States. The foundation broadly recognizes their contributions through national awards and hosting national fora on immigration issues. (Source: The Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on New Americans, supra.) 

Well the caption for this posting talked about problems of immigrant integration and an opportunity. Here's the opportunity, from an email sent by the Executive Director of the Merage Foundations, Marshall Kaplan:

I need to hire a real good Program Officer for the Merage Foundation for the American Dream. The person hired should reflect a graduate degree one of the following: law, business, public policy etc. He or she should be good on both inside and outside; that is, a good manager and a good outreach person. Hopefully [he or she] would have had at least 3 years of experience working in a non profit and government agency dealing with public interest issues. Work for a private firm on similar issues or directly on immigration would be equally great. Our web site describes the American Dream Foundation and what it does. Salary competitive with non profits doing similar kinds of things. It is negotiable.

Opportunity does not knock merely once; in my view, it is an anvil chorus.  This one would be perfect for the immigration lawyer or paralegal yearning to make a difference.