POLITICS

Citizenship and Immigration Services hiring 1,000 to handle applications for deportation protection

DORAL, FL - DECEMBER 10:  Katherine Diaz (L) and Nayleth Martinez stand with other demonstators stand with other demonstrators at the office of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on December 10, 2014 in Doral, Florida. The demonstrators called on Rubio to support President Obama's immigration initiatives.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

DORAL, FL - DECEMBER 10: Katherine Diaz (L) and Nayleth Martinez stand with other demonstators stand with other demonstrators at the office of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on December 10, 2014 in Doral, Florida. The demonstrators called on Rubio to support President Obama's immigration initiatives. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2014 Getty Images)

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency is looking to hire 1,000 new employees to process applications pertaining to President Barack Obama’s new executive action on immigration, the New York Times is reporting.

The agency is seeking special assistants, management program analysts and immigration services officers to handle the applications for thousands of undocumented immigration who qualify for deportation protection. Obama announced Nov. 20 that an estimated 4 to 5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States illegally would get a two-year reprieve from deportation.

The Washington Times said the agency will open a new operational center in Crystal City, a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, to accommodate about 1,000 full-time, permanent federal and contract employees in a variety of positions and grade levels.” The new positions have salaries that range up to $157,000 a year.

During a Dec. 15 speech in Los Angeles, USCIS director León Rodríguez said that the agency had already received around 5,000 job applications for the positions.

Officials at USCIS told the New York Times that the agency has signed a $7.8 million lease for offices in Crystal City, where a lot of government agencies house their overflow programs and staff.

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The employees will move into the offices in January – which would be about the same time that the new, Republican-controlled Congress takes office – and begin accepting applications in early spring.

The New York Times estimates that the tab for the salaries and the building space will run to close to $50 million.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) said in a statement that the president “is hiring federal employees to carry out a directive that violates the laws Congress has passed in order to foist on the nation laws Congress has repeatedly refused to pass.”

He called the Crystal City office, “a clear symbol of the president’s defiance of the American people, their laws and their Constitution.”

In a statement issued late Wednesday, according to the Washington Times, USCIS said, “Increasing staffing will ensure that every case received by USCIS receives a thorough review under our guidelines.”

But there are questions about whether there is enough time to keep to the government’s schedule.

A former head of the USCIS fraud unit, Louis D. Crocetti Jr., told the Washington Times that hiring and training that amount of staff would normally take a year.

“I don’t see how they could possibly recruit, hire, screen, go through all the national security background checks and train everyone within six months,” Crocetti told the paper. “That would be a very, very steep challenge.”

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