Friday, August 26, 2011

America's Gatekeeper in El Salvador Talks to 400 Applicants a Day?

The August 22 issue of WaPo has a piece from the Partnership for Public Service on the Federal Player of the Week - this one, about America's gatekeeper in El Salvador, a first tour foreign service officer.  The profile makes it sound as if the FSO, as "America's gatekeeper in El Salvador" is the only one guarding the gate over there.

To borrow Ambassador Crocker's phrase, "he is by no means alone."

As far as I'm told, there are about a dozen or so first tour officers working at our embassy in San Salvador, all performing visa and citizen services work at the consular section.  The other thing that seems striking about this profile is that the profilee is the embassy's Fraud Officer/Manager, a full time job in itself. That alone is not striking but speaking with "as many as 300 to 400 Salvadorans a day" is.  How many minutes can you really spend investigating each of the 400 applicants in an 8-hour workday?  Even if you spend 1.8 minute speaking with each one, you'll be at work until 9 o'clock at night with an hour of lunch to spare.  And anyway, I have never heard of officers doing 300-400 interviews a day even in the top visa mill posts (and El Salvador is not even a visa mill).

Well, have you?

He also appears to be the Ambassador's staff aide, which makes me wonder how he gets any sleep. Because as we all know, fraud and the front office are two of the more demanding assignment for newbies at any embassy.  And if he is serving concurrently in both positions in a section with a dozen other newbies, one has to wonder what's going on with the embassy's Junior Officer Rotation Program (JORP).

Excerpt below:

At just 26 years old, Vice Consul Navarro R. Moore is America’s gatekeeper in El Salvador, putting out the U.S. embassy’s welcome mat for Salvadorans seeking visas for legitimate entry to the United States, while maintaining a watchful eye for gang members, fraudulent documents and people who enter sham marriages for immigration purposes.

Moore is gratified when he can approve visas for people who want to visit family members living in the U.S. or who need life-saving medical treatment at an American hospital, but also when he can prevent people from illegally smuggling a child to the U.S. or passing off a fake birth certificate.

“We want people to come and see Disney World and enjoy the United States, but at the same time we have to follow the law and protect America and our borders,” Moore said.

Moore oversees three locally employed staff members who assist him as he searches for information and documents that detect and prevent passport and visa fraud. He speaks with as many as 300 to 400 Salvadorans a day, many of whom are intimidated about going to the embassy, and in his short time with them, he tries to put them at ease.

“He is the face of America, the first person, maybe the only person they’ll see,” said Ronald Robinson, a former State Department consul general and a mentor to Moore. “He must do his best to issue visas to those who deserve them and refuse those who can’t get them, in the most diplomatic

In this first tour of duty, Moore also handles requests for the ambassador, Mari Carmen Aponte, to participate in meetings and events, and prepares her by supplying her with pertinent information and helping with speeches.

While he may have just one foot on the diplomatic ladder’s first rung, Moore already is meeting people in high places. In his first year, Moore helped the ambassador host President Obama and the first lady, as well as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Read the whole thing here.

The article was reportedly prepared by the Partnership for Public Service and Nothing against profiles but write ups like these reminds me of the "s/he walks on water" performance evaluation variety ... makes me fall off my chair and hurts my brain.

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