Many of us have probably read a number of articles or heard various talks on immigration issues. However, it’s not every day that we hear from the man who oversees our nation’s immigration procedures and policies.
Two weeks ago, the director of the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), Leon Rodriguez, came to BC Law to deliver the annual Owen M. Kupferschmid Holocaust/ Human Rights Project (HHRP) lecture. Rodriguez is a BC Law alum (Class of ‘88) and was involved in the HHRP himself when he was a student. Rodriguez attributed his passion for immigration work to his experiences at BC Law. He was particularly inspired by the HHRP and by fellow classmates who were passionate about human rights. Rodriguez has since dedicated his entire career to public service, working in various capacities such as assistant district attorney and assistant attorney general before joining the USCIS. His story is a reminder that our current law school experiences and relationships play a significant role in shaping our future career paths.
One main theme of Rodriguez’s lecture was the tension between humanitarian objectives and national security issues when it comes to immigration policy. On the one hand, America has the potential to offer protection and opportunity to thousands of families abroad, whose safety and futures are at risk. On the other hand, there is concern about the reliability of the immigrant screening process and the possibility of dangerous individuals entering the country.
“There will always be a few bad guys who come through,” Rodriguez acknowledged. However, he also stated his confidence in the USCIS’s intensive screening procedures. Additionally, he mentioned that his team is developing a program that will track suspicious individuals on social media, as they have found that those individuals will usually communicate their harmful intentions to the online community.
Rodriguez also discussed a positive side of immigration policy, explaining that it “brings together all the interests and values of our society.” He noted that in addition to human rights and national security, immigration policy also shapes the American values of economic vitality and family unity.
As he concluded his speech, Rodriguez expressed his continued passion for his work. “One of the best parts of my job is swearing in new American citizens, so that they can contribute to and take their place in American society.” It was refreshing and encouraging hearing from someone who remains eager about his work after many years, and continues to follow the dreams that he has had since being a student. Hopefully, this is a story that all of us can tell down the road.
Venus Chui is a 1L at BC Law and a member of the Christian Legal Society. Feel free to contact her with questions about her experience, BC Law, or law school in general. Comment here or send her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.