St. Louis Immigration Office Faces Criticism

The American Immigration Lawyers Association recently sent a letter to the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, detailing unprofessional practices that have allegedly become common operating procedure at the USCIS field office in St. Louis.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the letter cited complaints that the AILA has received during the last 10 years, which have stated that the St. Louis immigration office sometimes takes years to accept or reject applications and routinely ignores correspondence inquiring about the status of cases. In addition, the letter contended that employees at the office conduct interviews in an adversarial manner and attempt to minimize the role attorneys play in helping legal immigrant applicants with naturalization, family reunification and asylum procedures.

The newspaper described specific examples of alleged unprofessional conduct, such as an immigrant who was told her children’s severe food allergies were the result of her bad parenting.

The Post-Dispatch quoted the letter as stating, “This is not a case of a few rogue officers. This is systemic management failure, and corrective action is needed.”

Chester Moyer, head of the St. Louis immigration office, told the news source the letter resulted from someone “skewering” the office without good reason.

A USCIS spokesperson told the paper the agency is reviewing the issues raised in the letter.

Missouri naturalized 4,388 immigrants last year, up from 2,627 in 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.