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May 9, 2017 – The Trump administration continues to stack its deck with key players in the anti-immigrant movement, most recently naming Julie Kirchner as the new Ombudsman for the Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) department. Kirchner, the former executive director of one of the nation’s most prominent anti-immigrant groups, will be tasked with improving the quality of immigration and citizenship services and providing individual case assistance to immigrants and their advocates. Despite repeatedly characterizing refugees and immigrants as dangerous and costly, Kirchner will be in charge of handling complaints from immigrants who need help navigating the complexities of the immigration system or who feel they have been treated unfairly by the agency.
The ombudsman is intended to be a nonbiased figure that can provide clear assistance to both immigrants and the Department of Homeland Security, independent from the sway of the agency or White House. In her new position, Kirchner will act in a number of roles, including as a liaison between immigrants and their employers who are unable to resolve their immigration cases. She will also be responsible for submitting an annual report to Congress identifying and offering suggestions to fix systemic issues with DHS.
For ten years, Kirchner was the head of the controversial Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been designated as a hate group with reported ties to white supremacists and eugenicists. As executive director of FAIR, Kirchner was responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the organization that has become well known for its anti-immigrant policy positions.
Last September, Breitbart, published parts of a statement by Kirchner, who was then an immigration advisor for the Trump campaign after leaving FAIR in 2015. “Before President Obama’s failed presidency comes to an end, he is trying to force Americans to accept 30 percent more refugees–providing ISIS a path for their terrorists to enter the country,” she wrote. “In recent years, hundreds of foreign born terrorists have been apprehended in the United States alone,” a statement that has been proven false. She additionally argued that “instead of providing free healthcare to millions of refugees, we must focus on rebuilding our inner cities and bringing jobs back to America.”
Kirchner has called for drastic reductions of refugee admissions and previously campaigned against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows immigrants brought here as children to obtain work permits and protects them from potential deportation. During her tenure at FAIR, she helped launch an initiative to end the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship provision, which grants citizenship to all individuals born on U.S. soil, regardless of the status of their parents.
Placing Kirchner in the role of Ombudsman completely undermines the purpose of the agency and shuts down yet another avenue for holding the government accountable to the rights and needs of non-citizens in this country.
ImmigrationImpact.com is a project of the American Immigration Council.