(As published in La Opinión in Spanish
Sometimes, the individuals in greatest need of information are the most difficult to reach. This is one of the challenges a public agency must address as it strives to serve its communities fairly and effectively.
We at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that administers our nation’s legal immigration system, have thought a great deal about how we can best reach those whose access to our services is not easy or immediate.
As a result, we have developed new and innovative ways to communicate with our public, including those whose voices and concerns might not otherwise be heard.
One example of our work is coming up in just a few days. On January 29, for the first time we will be hosting a national meeting in Spanish, on a Saturday, in one of our local district offices. The meeting will be in Fairfax, Virginia
, and individuals from all over the country can participate by telephone. We will focus our discussion on how an individual can petition for a relative to immigrate to this country.
We have held these meetings in Spanish before.
the meetings enable community members to learn about our programs and allow us to learn of issues of importance to our community.
We conduct the meetings in Spanish because it is spoken by a very large portion of our customer base.
It is for this very reason that we have built and improved our Spanish-language website, www.USCIS.gov/espanol
, which received more than 700,000 visits this past month. Our Spanish-language website was ranked first for customer satisfaction among all federal departmental Spanish language websites. We have institutionalized our delivery of service to Spanish-speaking stakeholders and customers.
The upcoming Enlace is a bit different and more far-reaching. It is the first time we have held a national engagement on a Saturday, in the community. This is part of our effort to reach those whose access to us is limited, whether it be because of work schedule, transportation, or other life factors.
As the new year advances, our agency will implement new, creative ways to reach the communities we serve. Our goal is to provide equal access to this nation’s legal immigration system, so that those in need of our services are reached, our agency’s mission is fulfilled, and our nation’s proud tradition as a nation of immigrants continues strong.
Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Department of Homeland Security