September 17th. Bring tent.
Steve Jobs launched his massively successful "Think Different" rebranding campaign for Apple in 1997 with a TV commercial and this script:
Here's to the Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world...are the ones who do!
Alejandro Mayorkas, the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), recently announced with the flourish of a press release an ingenious "Think Different" initiative that may well transform this vexed and vexing immigration agency. His announcement heralded the new Entrepreneurs in Residence Program (EIR), an experiment that will tap the wisdom and experience of seasoned startup veterans to inject fresh air and fresh insights into USCIS.
The EIR, as the press release explained, "will utilize industry expertise to strengthen USCIS policies and practices" affecting foreign "investors, entrepreneurs and workers with specialized skills, knowledge, or abilities." As Director Mayorkas explained, the "initiative creates additional opportunities for USCIS to gain insights in areas critical to economic growth . . . [with the] introduction of expert views from the private and public sector [which] will help [USCIS] to ensure that our policies and processes fully realize the immigration law's potential to create and protect American jobs." A two-stage effort, the EIR begins as a "series of informational summits with industry leaders to gather high-level strategic input" and then the heavy lifting follows with the assembly of a "tactical team comprised of entrepreneurs and experts, working with USCIS personnel, to design and implement effective solutions."
The EIR occupation of USCIS cannot come a millisecond too soon. Just like a Dream Act kid who keeps getting blamed for the mistakes of her undocumented parents, USCIS, only nine years old, keeps receiving many of the same brickbats that bombarded its ancestor, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Unlike the DREAMers, however, USCIS has magnified INS's peccadilloes and committed new more egregious ones of its own. Ted Chiappari and I describe the venial and mortal sins of USCIS at length in our article, published last week in the New York Law Journal, "Intubation and Incubation Two Remedies for an Ailing Immigration Agency" (link courtesy of ALM Enterprises).
Whether intended or inadvertent, EIR is a deft stratagem, even more artful than Clintonesque triangulating. Cleverness taken to the fourth degree, EIR, captured in one word, is all about quadrangulation. If it is to succeed, EIR must task its occupiers to infiltrate and attack from within the four-sided challenge that is USCIS today: (1) the immigration stakeholder community and the USCIS Ombudsman clamoring for more user-friendly enhancements to fusty USCIS interpretations of work-visa eligibility, (2) the ever-campaigning President saying "we can't wait" for the enactment of job-creating legislation, (3) Socialism-incliningRepublicans in Congress, led by GOP commissars Smith and Grassley, who seem, counter-intuitively, to embrace immigration regulation more than job creation, and (4) the agency's anti-business, unionized adjudicators who prefer chaos theory over customer service.
Who will Director Mayorkas tap as the EIR's movers and shakers to prod, awaken, reeducate and redirect USCIS? As noted in the NYLJ "Intubation/Incubation" article, ideally they should be "industry leaders" with just the right background:
[Entrepreneurs who] harbor a strong interest in an expansive reading of the employment-based immigration laws. Their likely interpretation would view the immigration laws as offering many opportunities to grow startup and established businesses in the U.S. by harnessing the innovations and skills of bright, energized and talented non-citizens. Prospective EIR participants with such interests and perspectives probably will have already used and intend to use again the employment-based immigration laws to secure USCIS's permission to hire foreign workers.
As the EIR experiment in intramural administrative sport begins, an October 29-30 Wall Street Journal editorial ("The Other Jobs Crisis") captured spot-on the immigration dysfunctions that beset America today. Migrant farm workers flee Alabama and Georgia, two states with nativist laws that cause produce to rot in the field. With few Americans willing to descend to back-breaking stoop labor, "incarcerated criminals" are dragooned to "work the fields." Republicans in Congress, the supposed "champion[s of] deregulation and business-led growth" focus on "immigration control" as "one of their main passions," while continuing "to ignore the economic costs" and the need "to overhaul the guest worker program to widen avenues for legal immigration." Meantime, ironically on www.WSJ.com, GOP Presidential front-runner and pizza-chain turnaround artist, Herman Cain, callously rebukes the Occupy Wall St. protestors: "If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself! ... It is not a person's fault if they succeeded, it is a person's fault if they failed."
Like his Chief of Staff, Herman Cain is just blowing smoke. He should know that not everyone can find a job in a nation with a 9.1% unemployment rate (but if Cain is truly "counter-factual" on the cause of U.S. joblessness, he is manifestly unfit for the presidency). America desperately needs more job creators, the salutary byproducts of a functioning, business-friendly immigration system. Since Congress will not act, and the President can't wait, my hope is that Director Mayorkas will install "demented" entrepreneurial occupiers of USCIS, "Crazy Ones" who "are crazy enough to think they can change" America by occupying his benighted agency.