AFGE Commends Move To Keep Immigration Functions Under Federal Control
WASHINGTON -- AFGE commends the conferees of the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill for retaining bipartisan language that passed both chambers which would prevent the Department of Homeland Security from going forward with a privatization review of nearly 1,400 employees across the nation who investigate and adjudicate immigration rights and benefits-in spite of White House veto threats.
AFGE National President John Gage declared that, “We appreciate the courageous leadership of our Congressional champions, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Senator Ben Nelson. In addition to all Democratic conferees, we also express our appreciation to Senator Arlen Specter, Representative Frank Wolf, Representative John Sweeney, and Representative Jo Ann Emerson.”
AFGE has argued that the functions performed by these DHS employees–Immigration Information Officers, Contact Representatives, and Investigative Assistants–are inherently governmental, i.e., should always be performed by federal employees. These DHS employees perform work of intimate relation to the public interest, and in particular, they are required to use discretion and judgment to prevent criminals, terrorists, and other malefactors from perpetrating immigration fraud.
According to an internal management email, DHS was recently forced to bring back in-house similar but much simpler work, answering basic questions from the public about immigration and citizenship, because of “pressure from constituent groups” that had long been dissatisfied with the service provided by the former contractor. That work will now be performed by many of the same DHS employees whose jobs would be reviewed for contracting out if the anti-privatization language retained by the conferees is not enacted into law.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 workers in the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia.