AILA Calls USCIS NTA Guidance a Positive Step

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jenny Werwa / Amanda Walkins
202-507-7628 202-507-7618

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) commends U. S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) for today’s field guidance that moves the agency back in the direction of the original intent behind its formation--it is the service arm of Department of Homeland Security (DHS), charged with fairly adjudicating immigration petitions and applications.

“This guidance lets officers focus solely on the job at hand, referring most enforcement actions to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agency formed for that purpose,” said AILA President Eleanor Pelta. “The memo still outlines situations in which USCIS officers should institute removal proceedings. However, it realigns the agency’s goals to better reflect its original and intended purpose.”

“AILA also is encouraged by the structures that USCIS is putting into place with respect to naturalization cases,” continued Pelta. “Citizenship is precious, and the steps outlined in the guidance should help to avoid some of the miscarriages of justice that we sometimes see when long-time legal residents seek citizenship only to find themselves instead thrown out of the country over a technicality.”

AILA congratulates USCIS on this act of reasoned government, but is dismayed by the guidance’s perpetuation of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) program. “DHS eliminated the ongoing application of this program some time ago, but has never corrected the injustices created by its complex and confusing rules. Rather than saying that it will refer for possible removal people who are not registered under this largely-abandoned program, USCIS should simply cease to apply these rules,” concluded Pelta.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 11110809.