AILA Doc No. 02022259 | Dated February 22, 2002
AILA STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
The GAO Misses Opportunity and Issues Flawed Report
The General Accounting Office recently issued a report, Immigration Benefit Fraud: Focused Approach Is Needed to Address Problems. GAO undertook this investigation at the request of Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WS) and George Gekas (R-PA). They asked the agency to review information on the nature and extent of immigration benefit fraud at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
There is no place in the INS or in any agency for fraud. Immigration benefit fraud threatens the integrity of the legal immigration system. It cannot and should not be tolerated. Like the GAO, many, with reason, have found fault with INS management. Certainly, there is much room for improvement, with the INS needing to undertake reforms that will make the agency effective, efficient, and fair. The Administration’s INS reorganization plan is a step in the right direction, and will address many of the concerns the GAO raises.
We all want an agency that works, and works well. However, any investigation of fraud must be conducted fairly and use methods that are above question. Based on these criteria, the GAO has failed. Its report presents opinions as facts, makes no attempt to corroborate allegations raised, and portrays the INS’s successful efforts at fraud detection as examples of a broken system. In fact, the report really is two reports: one reporting on alleged fraud based on uncorroborated opinions, and the other focusing on changes in procedures that would be beneficial for any agency.
The GAO has raised serious charges. Such charges need to be based on fact, not allegations or conjecture. There is room for improvement in any agency, especially the INS, but any successful reform must be guided by accurate data.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 02022259.