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An Open Letter to AILA Employees

by Kenneth Rinzler

Dear AILA Employee:

Soon it will be December, and you know what that means: time for your annual performance evaluation to see whether you get a raise.

No doubt the powers that be at AILA will tell you that the organization is in terrible financial shape, that everyone is tightening their belts, that we all must do more with less or, as the King of Siam used to say, ďet cetera, et cetera, et ceteraÖĒ LOL. And besides, money isnít everything and AILA is a great place to work, because you keep reading those press accounts which say so.

So when your raise is not quite what you thought it should be (what, you donít deserve a 27% annual increase???!!!), or possibly non-existent, read the following information about the compensation your bosses receive, as gleaned from the Federal tax returns AILA must file and which are required to be open to the public (and which I posted earlier today on the Message Center), and content yourself with the knowledge that any organization which can pay its top four officers 21% of the organizationís entire payroll expense must be doing something right. Right?

Donít settle! Ask for more money! Stand up for yourself!

Because we, the people who pay your salaries, apparently donít feel the need to stand up for you.

I have the 2010 Form 990. I am speechless. Where to begin? This should be required reading for every member of AILA.

    1. For all the talk about how hard all the officers and directors work, AILA tells Uncle Sam that they only donate two hours per week of their time to the organization. (page 7)

    2. For calendar year 2010, AILA had 57 employees (page 1)

    3. Highest paid employees: Crystal Williams at $226,896 salary plus perks reported for a total of $248,257; Susan Quarles at $205,841/$226,204, Robert Deasy at $165,237/$181,771, and Tatia Gordon Troy at $121,493 (Page 11 of form, plus Schedule J, page 2). So four people earn a total of $725,555 in salary plus another $60,497 in "other compensation" (page 11) Other employees paid a total of $3,395,153 (page13). Thus the four top-paid employees receive about 21% of all salaries paid, with the other 53 persons receiving the remaining 79%. Doesn't sound too equitable for an organization devoted to justice for all, does it?

    4. Annual conference took in $2,103,087 in revenue (page 12)

    5. Banks and credit card fees of $324,971 (page 13)

    6. Savings and temporary cash investments of $2,901,706 (page 14)

    7. $4,274,368 collected in dues (page 22)

    8. $296,881 given to the American Immigration Council (Schedule I)

    9. How salaries are determined: "The National Officers conduct a written performance review of the Executive Director annually in December. They are provided with comparability data for CEO's and a salary range. They make the compensation decision. The Executive Director reviews written performance evaluations of all key employees and comparability data for each position in December. Salary decisions are based on a stated formula that is tied to the written evaluation." (page 36, following up on Part VI, Section B, Line 15)

It gets worse.
Here are the figures from the 2009 tax return:

    1. Crystal Williams made a total of $195,000, so her compensation increased by about 27% (to last year's $248,00) in one year! Nothing justifies such a raise, especially during 9% unemployment. One wonders what kind of raise she will get this December. (And for the record, I don't know these people other than through occasional emails, and do not have anything personal against any of them.)

    2. Susan Quarles went from $203,000 to (2010's) $$226,000.

    3. Tatia Gordon Troy wasn't listed in the 2009 return.

    4. But Theresa Waters, past and current Senior HR Director, was and she made $141,509 in 2009.

    5. Robert Deasy went from $172,000 to $181,000.

    6. Jeanne Butterfield earned $180,000 in 2009.

    7. In 2009 both Jeanne Butterfield and Crystal Williams were listed as Executive Directors (neither as a Deputy or anything else), with a total compensation package of $375,000 ($195,000 for Crystal Williams and $180,000 for Jeanne Butterfield).

Sorry, but not only are these salaries not justified, but the annual raises these people receive are unconscionable. And it took pulling teeth to get the information. Both our "leadership" and senior staff need to be more forthcoming and transparent about these important issues.
And AILA is not a powerhouse, only preaches to the choir and has predictable knee-jerk reactions to any enforcement proposal, and is not very successful with the American public, Congress, or FSO's in getting what it wants, but that's because it's become too much of an advocacy organization and not enough of a service to its members organization. The membership allows itself to be treated like fools, and this is what we get. How many of our members earn this kind of pay? And who the hell receives an annual raise of 27%? Oh yes, I know, run for office and change the by-laws, etc. Not in this incestuous high school popularity group, thank you. Besides, unlike AILA, I do not support amnesty and believe we need enforcement of our immigration laws.
Maybe we should Occupy AILA?

Kenneth Rinzler
Attorney at Law
3229-B Sutton Place, NW
Washington, DC 20016-7519
Tel. 202-363-1534
Fax 202-363-1535

About The Author

Kenneth Rinzler is an immigration lawyer in Washington, DC, and a frequent visitor to consular posts, having now traveled to 40 countries. A graduate of Georgetown University and Seton Hall University School of Law, he is a member of the District of Columbia, Indiana, New Jersey, and U.S. Supreme Court Bars. In addition to authoring articles for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), he has written on immigration law for the German American Chamber of Commerce. Before specializing in immigration law, he spent nearly ten years working as a legislative assistant and counsel to a U.S. Congressman, and thus has an intimate knowledge of Federal legislative and administrative procedures.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.