Just when U.S. employers thought the bad vibes emanating from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) could get no worse, the agency tasked with deciding whether to approve or reject requests for immigration benefits has come up with VIBE -- its new Verification Initiative for Business Enterprises which costs a whopping $35,506,760.43.
Just imagine . . .
. . . a program in which USCIS, by using VIBE, "will acquire information from an [Independent Information Provider (IIP)] . . ., which can be used to verify the eligibility of a company while detecting multiple types of misrepresentations."
. . . a program that will run checks on the "financial viability" of the existing population of 137,000 companies that have registered with E-Verify, Homeland Security's online employment-verification database, as well as the roughly 52,000 new E-Verify registrants each year.
. . . a program where USCIS flouts the spirit if not the letter of its own regulation, 8 CFR § 103.2(b)(16)(i), which requires its officers to advise a petitioner or applicant of derogatory evidence and provide an opportunity to rebut the information.
. . . a world where information collected on companies' financial viability and business operations may be inaccurate, incomplete or outdated, and yet is relied upon by USCIS to issue requests for additional evidence (RFEs) that are even more burdensome than the type we see today and that unfairly delay the grant of work permits, visa petitions and green cards to deserving companies and their employees.
. . . a world in which a cash-strapped immigration agency, whose "financial viability" is endangered because its business model relies on the uncertain ebb and flow of user fees rather than government appropriations, would probably fail IIP testing if subjected to the same sort of third-party scrutiny as it plans to inflict on the very payors of its user fees.
Well, there's no need to imagine such a program because, according to a recent letterfrom USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas to Senator Chuck Grassley, VIBE will likely be implemented in the "spring of 2010." Director Mayorkas promises to provide Senator Grassley with "regular updates as to the progress of the [VIBE] program's rollout."
Perhaps the good Director can also provide the public, through the USCIS Office of Public Engagement, and the Senate and House Immigration Subcommittees, with an explanation of why VIBE requires no Privacy Impact Assessment or Privacy Act SORN notice, or why the financial viability of E-Verify registrants must be tested, or what safeguards have been incorporated or reparations set aside for payment if an IIP provides inaccurate data or an immigration examiner misinterprets data and a petitioning company -- perhaps a startup of which the IIP is unaware -- thereby loses a major contract, or if an unjustified delay in adjudication or denial of benefits results in the loss of a key foreign worker.
Clearly, stakeholders, take note and be wary, for the Immigration Singularity is upon us.