US appoints contact person for US immigration concerns

US Immigration officials announced this week the appointment of a new public advocate in charge of addressing questions and complaints about immigration law-enforcement policies. A public advocate is a governmental position similar to an ombudsman. They are a government official who investigates citizens' complaints against the government.

The US appointed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Senior Adviser Andrew Lorenzen-Strait to be the contact person for inquiries from everyone including immigrants, US citizens, and people who are in the country illegally going through deportation proceedings.

"We want the public to know that they have a representative at this agency whose sole duty is to ensure their voice is heard and their interests are recognized, and I'm confident Andrew will serve the community well in this capacity," said ICE Director John Morton.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith criticized the appointment, claiming that having an "in-house lobbyist for illegal immigrants" would cost taxpayers more money.

"It's outrageous that the Obama administration has appointed a taxpayer-funded activist for illegal and criminal immigrants who are detained or ordered deported," Smith said. "The administration all too often acts more like a lobbying firm for illegal immigrants than as an advocate for the American people."

According to ICE, people who are in the country illegally would be able to express their concerns. Also US citizens, legal immigrants and community and advocacy groups could also have questions, concerns or issues addressed.

Morton said that the position was created to ensure everyone understands the changes being made within US Immigration and what they mean for those facing deportation or people who are currently in immigration detention centres. According to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), his role will be to "serve as a point of contact for individuals, including those in immigration proceedings, NGOs, and other community and advocacy groups, who have concerns, questions, recommendations or important issues they would like to raise."

Last November the DHS begin a review of all deportation cases. They also began a training program aimed at expediting deportations of convicted criminals and halting deportations of many illegal immigrants with no criminal record. The US is reviewing the cases of all deportation proceedings and undocumented immigrants to determine whether or not they are a priority for removal.

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