USCIS creates new investigative office to police misconduct

July 9, 2018 GMT

The government’s chief legal immigration agency is elevating its internal watchdog, creating a new Office of Investigations to police employee misconduct and protect U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from penetrated by foreign agents.

The office will report to the agency’s deputy director, giving it more independence, USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna says in a memo to employees. A copy of the memo was seen by The Washington Times.

The agency will handle cases that don’t fall under the Homeland Security Department’s broader inspector general, Mr. Cissna said.

The Washington Post, reporting on plans for the office earlier this year, had said employees feared it was being created to punish officers who are too lenient in their decision-making on applications for citizenship or other legal immigration benefits. USCIS officials say that is not the case.

Mr. Cissna said the office was actually being created in response to a 2016 audit. That audit found a previous iteration, known as the Investigations Division, was plagued by management issues and favoritism.

Creating the new Office of Investigations as an independent branch that reports to the deputy director should help solve those issues, Mr. Cissna suggested.