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CHC Calls for Removal of USCIS Ombudsman Julie Kirchner

May 10, 2017
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51), Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) Chair Rep. Michelle Lujan and Members of the CHC sent a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kelly calling for the immediate removal of Julie Kirchner as USCIS Ombudsman.
 
As stated in the letter, “Given that Ms. Kirchner has made a career of attacking immigrant communities, we find her appointment to be offensive, insensitive and malicious. We do not believe that a person who has spent over a decade attacking immigrant communities will now work effectively and thoughtfully to advance the rights of immigrants and fulfill the important duties that are required of this role.”
 
The CHC has sounded the alarm on DHS’s embrace of hardline anti-immigrant advisors and the troubling policies they have implemented, including reviving the 287(g) program, launching the VOICE office, and inviting nativist groups to immigrant stakeholder meetings, as reported here and here.
 
The letter was signed by: CHC Chair Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, CHC First Vice Chair Rep. Joaquin Castro, CHC Second Vice Chair Rep. Ruben Gallego, Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Linda Sánchez, CHC Immigration Taskforce Chair Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, Rep. Luis Correa, Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, Rep. Grace Napolitano, Rep. Filemon Vela, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, Rep. Darren Soto, Rep. Norma Torres, Rep. Adriano Espaillat, Rep. Albio Sires, Rep. Tony Cárdenas, Rep. Ruben Kihuen, and Rep. Salud Carbajal.
 
COPY OF LETTER
 
May 10, 2017
 
The Honorable John F. Kelly
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
 
Dear Secretary Kelly,
 
We are extremely concerned about the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s recent appointment of Julie Kirchner as the Ombudsman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department. The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman has the important role of overseeing the quality of citizenship and immigration services for immigrants.  Given that Ms. Kirchner has made a career of attacking immigrant communities, we find her appointment to be offensive, insensitive and malicious. We do not believe that a person who has spent over a decade attacking immigrant communities will now work effectively and thoughtfully to advance the rights of immigrants and fulfill the important duties that are required of this role.
 
According to the DHS agency website, the Ombudsman’s office at USCIS “provides assistance to immigrants who run into trouble with the agency, such as immigration applications that take too long to process or applications that may have been improperly rejected”. It is clear that the USCIS Ombudsman role is now more important than ever given our severely backlogged and broken immigration system.  All too often, we hear from families, businesses and attorneys that visa, green card and citizenship applications are delayed or were improperly rejected. Ensuring that USCIS is working effectively and fairly to review cases in a timely manner is important for the growth of the economy, and helps immigrant families navigate the application process.
 
Before Ms. Kirchner joined DHS, she worked for 10 years at the anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). According to numerous sources, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), FAIR leaders have made many racist statements, have a history of extremist affiliations including strong ties to white supremacist groups and have received funds from eugenics groups. In 2007, Ms. Kirchner became the organization's Executive Director and oversaw all Washington and national operations.  During her tenure, she led an initiative to end the 14th Amendment's birthright citizenship provision, which grants citizenship to all children born on American soil.
 
Given Ms. Kirchner’s long-standing ties to FAIR, we find her appointment as USCIS Ombudsman to be completely unacceptable. As someone who has spent her career demonizing immigrants and immigration, Ms. Kirchner is not qualified for this position. We ask that you revisit her appointment and remove her from this post immediately.
 
Sincerely,
 
# # #
 
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.
 
Media Contact:
Carlos Paz Jr. (CHC) 202-897-7718, carlos.paz@mail.house.gov
Dayanara Ramirez (Vargas) 202-225-8045, dayanara.ramirez@mail.house.gov