One week after President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise by curbing the arrival of refugees from several Muslim-majority countries, a senior bureaucrat at the Department of Homeland Security countermanded his presidential directive.
The acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of Homeland Security, Lori Scialabba, sent out a February 2 memo directing her employees to continue processing documents for refugees from the countries named by Donald Trump. The memo was leaked to The Intercept website and was made public on Document Cloud.
According to The Intercept:
LESS THAN ONE week after senior leadership at the Department of Homeland Security issued a policy guidance that threatened to bring much of the government’s asylum and refugee work to a grinding halt, a new directive issued to employees appears to reverse key elements of the procedures U.S. immigration officials are expected to follow… According to an internal memo issued Thursday by Lori Scialabba, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the portion of Trump’s controversial ban pertaining to the issuance of visas and other benefits to immigrants from the targeted countries “does not affect USCIS adjudication of applications and petitions filed for or on behalf of individuals in the United States regardless of their country or nationality.”
The new memo, obtained by The Intercept, stands in direct contradiction to the earlier DHS guidance, which effectively blocked U.S. immigration officials from issuing decisions in any adjustment of status cases for nationals of the banned countries — including applications for permanent residency and naturalization by individuals already in the United States.
Scialabba’s actions spotlight the need for Trump to nominate his top appointees so they can clean house in the many agencies that they were elected to oversee.
Trump nominated General John Kelly as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and he was confirmed January 20, but much of the implementation of the department’s policies is still controlled by holdover bureaucrats, such as Scialabba. Until they are removed, sources say, the Department of Homeland Security will not come close to implementing President Trump’s agenda, even with Kelly at the top of the organization.
“It normally takes a president more than a year to get the lion’s share of his appointees in place, leaving the management of agencies and departments in the hands of career employees who are not in position to make critical and long-term decisions,” Max Steir reported at Bloomberg Views.