Dear Secretary Chertoff:
We're writing to respectfully request that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service retain its term employees whose contracts expire at the end of this fiscal year. These employees have expertise in processing immigration applications and petitions, and CIS should not risk delays in those services by allowing their contracts to expire.
Since 2002, more than 1100 employees were hired on a term-basis to reduce the growing backlog of immigration applications and to process incoming applications. Since then, the backlog has been significantly reduced with CIS granting contract extensions---sometimes for as many as four years--- to its term employees. We urge CIS to allow this progress to continue by either further extending the employees' terms or making them permanent employees as quickly as possible.
The Department has invested significant resources in the term employees' training and security clearances, and these employees have developed expertise in processing immigration benefits claims. They are vital to the fulfillment by CIS of its mission to fairly and efficiently process immigration applications. However, CIS will be at risk of again falling behind on processing applications unless the Department acts to retain the employees whose current terms will expire on September 30, 2006.
As you know, Congress is considering immigration reform legislation. The Senate has already passed a comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform that has the support of President Bush. Passage of this legislation would make retaining these term employees particularly important, and we urge you to do so now.
With respect and appreciation, and we thank you for your consideration of this