“USCIS strongly condemns antisemitism and the use of violent rhetoric in any form. USCIS employees are held to high ethical standards on and off duty, including their presence on social media. Any violation of these standards is taken seriously by the agency.”— Matthew Bourke, a spokesperson for DHS.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Nejwa Ali, an Asylum Officer at DHS, have been at the center of a controversy involving Ali’s pro-Hamas and anti-Semitic content on social media. Republican Senator Josh Hawley has criticized Mayorkas for retaining Ali on the DHS payroll, leading to a heated exchange during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing.
Nejwa Ali is a former Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) public affairs officer employed at DHS since 2019 as an Asylum Officer. Her role involves applying immigration laws and regulations to asylum applications.
“The Department of Homeland Security lacked answers Thursday to piercing questions about how a woman who worked for a designated terrorist organization and espoused virulent anti-Israel rules was hired to decide sensitive asylum cases — and senior former officials urged the department to review every case she handled to correct her bias.”
Senator Josh Hawley has expressed concerns about Ali’s pro-Hamas and anti-Semitic content on social media, particularly her posts during an attack on Israelis. He also expressed doubts about Ali’s role in adjudicating U.S. immigration cases, given her reported statements and negative views against Israel and support for Hamas. During the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Hawley questioned Mayorkas about Ali’s employment status. He sent a letter to Mayorkas calling for Ali’s termination. He asked Mayorkas during a Senate committee hearing, “Is this typical of people who work at DHS?” Mayorkas refused to answer Hawley’s questions about Ali’s employment status.
Ali is currently on administrative leave from the department, which means she is not performing her duties but still holds her position. During the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, Ali made several posts referring to Israel as an “apartheid occupation” and calling for Palestinian freedom at the expense of an Israeli “downfall.”
“F*** Israel and any Jew who supports Israel.” – This is Nejwa Ali’s actual post on social media.
Ali’s personal views seem to extend into her professional life, raising concerns about her ability to apply immigration laws and regulations fairly and impartially. Her extremist rhetoric on social media, particularly her posts after the attacks on Israel, has raised alarms about her ability to perform her duties as an Asylum Officer. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) spokesman Matthew Bourke has issued a statement condemning anti-Semitism and violent rhetoric.
Hawley has also expressed concerns about the influence of social media platforms like TikTok on public opinion, particularly about the Israel-Hamas war. He has called for the ban of TikTok due to its handling of content about the war and the ubiquity of anti-Israel content on the platform. He has also sponsored legislation to ban TikTok over the platform’s handling of personal data. According to his office, he plans to fast-track a vote on the Senate floor this week.
Hawley has pushed for answers on how many immigration cases involving Palestinians, Israelis, or other Jewish applicants Ali has reviewed. This question aims to assess the extent of Ali’s involvement in adjudicating immigration cases and the potential for bias in her decisions.
In addition, Hawley has questioned the safeguards in the asylum adjudication process. He is particularly interested in understanding how the system can remediate any potential abuses committed by immigration officers who may hold strong prejudices.
The USCIS has not commented on why they would hire someone previously working for a foreign quasi-government expelled from the United States. Even though the hiring process for government positions like those at USCIS involves a rigorous vetting process, employers must verify that an individual they plan to employ or continue to employ in the United States is authorized to accept employment there. This includes complying with employment verification requirements. So, How did Nejwa Ali, a former terrorist organization spokeswoman, get hired at DHS?
In conclusion, the controversy involving Nejwa Ali and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is alarming about the DHS’s handling of immigration cases and the impartiality of its employees. The USCIS’s response to the controversy has been inadequate, and further investigation is needed to ensure that immigration laws and regulations are applied fairly and impartially. Senator Hawley’s inquiries are focused on understanding the extent of Ali’s involvement in immigration case reviews, the potential for bias in the asylum adjudication process, the pro-Hamas and anti-Semitic content posted by a DHS employee, the hiring practices of the USCIS, the influence of social media platforms like TikTok on public opinion, and the potential implications for national security
©2023. Amil Imani. All rights reserved.