From 2014 to 2017, Leon Rodriguez served as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. USCIS is the office within the Department of Homeland Security tasked with, among other things, processing asylum and refugee applications.
So, when the Trump administration announced new “extreme vetting” procedures for refugees last month, he had a uniquely qualified perspective to offer.
Rodriguez, whose family was assisted by HIAS and who now serves on the organization’s Board of Directors, wrote an op-ed this week in The Atlantic where he comes to the “disheartening but unsurprising conclusion” that the new policies have been “invented out of thin air.”
In addition to describing the extensive vetting procedures already in existence, he addresses the immense efforts made to help refugees integrate and achieve self-sufficiency following their arrival in the United States.
"During the fiscal years coinciding with my tenure as head of USCIS, the Obama administration resettled nearly 280,000 refugees,” Rodriguez writes. “Organizations, such as HIAS and Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, make certain that newly-arrived refugees can fully participate in their communities—economically, socially, and politically."