The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) doesn't often find itself in the media limelight. Most social media mentions for this agency consist of check-ins from individuals visiting to their local center or dealing with paperwork from the agency. Its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, has a far more prominent social media presence, for its celebrated role in domestic counterterrorism and security, but both agencies were on the receiving end of a Twitter burst on June 15 when President Obama revealed his new immigration policy.
As OhMyGov's metrics reveal, USCIS actually had a similar boost on June 13. This spike was in response to the announcement that H-1B visa applications for specialists in the computer, science, and engineering industries had reached their quota for FY2013; the reaction among social media pundits was decidedly negative.
Two days later, when the president's announcement put USCIS under the microscope once again, the reaction was far more positive. The agency saw a marked increase in social media fans. With news mentions up 233% and Twitter mentions up 64%, President Obama's announcement gave USCIS a rare but welcome positive exposure.
The new policy, which will be enforced by DHS, allows young people to request relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization in the United States.
The president reported that many of the individuals targeted by the policy change were raised in America, serve in the military or study at university, and would have been covered by the DREAM Act, which remains in Congressional limbo. Obama's new mandates are intended to direct resources toward improved border security and expedient deportation of individuals who pose a threat to public safety.
While not everyone responded positively to President Obama's declaration, OhMyGov analyzed 200 random tweets relating to the new immigration policy and found that 70% were supportive of the measures. Among the posts collected by OhMyGov's media monitoring service, USCIS was mentioned in connection to confusion about the new rules and disappointment that the case-by-case considerations would not begin for 60 days. However, most posts were enthusiastic, with social sharing of articles and unique status updates and tweets remaining frequent in recent days.
The added attention on immigration issues sparked an acceleration of new Twitter followers for USCIS. Whereas in typical weeks, USCIS has been adding between 100 and 175 followers a week, during last week's news focus on immigration reform the agency added nearly 325, the most in any week this year.
Adding more followers than usual after Obama's immigration news
OhMyGov will be watching to see how well U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services manages its social media presence once the agency begins reviewing deferral requests from young people this August. It will be interesting to see how the normally low-key USCIS handles the spotlight as reforms take effect.