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Rallying cry for a safer America?

A brief look at federal government hiring practices
Rallying cry for a safer America?

In March 2002 I took a written test for the immigration inspector position with the INS, (Immigration and Naturalization Service). I had seen a job announcement in the Oregonian, and decided to give it a shot. The written test was at the Red Lion Inn in Vancouver, and there was a large crowd of folks there that day. I remember in the letter INS sent me announcing the test date and location, they also sent a paper that showed the rates for hotel rooms at the Red Lion, and I think there was even a discount offered for people who came from out of town to take the test. So apparently this test brought people from around the region, not just the Portland metro area.

I did pretty well on the testógot an 84. If I remember, that put me in the 90th percentile in that group of test takers. It was a fairly challenging test too, and it had been about seven years since I'd been in high-school, (i.e. since my last challenging test). I was sent a sample questions pamphlet, which includes examples of logical reasoning questions and reasoning with incomplete information questions. Here's an example of a reasoning with incomplete information question:

The printed output of some computer-driven printers can be recognized by forensic analysts. The 'Acme Model 200' printer was manufactured using two different inking mechanisms, one of which yields a 'Type A' micropattern of ink spray around its characters. Of all Acme Model 200 printers, 70% produce this Type A micropattern, which is also characteristic of some models of other printers. Forensic analysts at a crime lab have been examining a kidnap ransom note which clearly exhibits the Type A micropattern.

From the information given above, it can be validly concluded that this note
A) was printed on an Acme Model 200 printer, with a probability of 70%
B) was printed on an Acme Model 200 printer, with a probability of 30%
C) was not printed on an Acme Model 200 printer, with a probability of 70%
D) was not printed on an Acme Model 200 printer, with a probability of 30%
E) may have been printed on an Acme Model 200 printer, but the probability cannot be estimated

The correct answer is E.

In the months after the test, INS sent me about three letters, which informed me of my test results and other info. One letter informed me that the next step in the application process would be an oral interview in San Francisco. From the letter, I got the impression that I would be notified as to when this interview would take place. But there may have been a selection process that I was unaware of, something like a lottery. The "oral interview" may have been for those who were specially selected.

In any case, after the first couple of letters I got back from INS, I was looking forward to possibly getting the immigration inspector job. I would've been sent to Georgia for a brief training. It would've been pretty niceómy days would've looked like this: running laps in the morning, brushing up on my Spanish in the afternoon, and going out for a few beers at night. While I worked at a couple McJobs in spring/summer 2002, I kept the notion in mind that I might get the letter or call anytime to continue the application process. But the letter or call never came.

The other day I found an old letter from the INS, which may have been the last one they sent me. It's from mid-July 2002, and is basically a reminder that I applied for the immigration inspector position. It reads "Notice of Results" at the top, but I'd already received a couple letters that listed my test results. This letter states, "ATTN: All Applicants must update their application as soon as possible at [staffing.opm.gov] in order to continue to be considered for II positions."

The position I applied for was such a position. I think this meant that, to continue to be considered for any position, I had to update my application. This may have had something to do with the creation of Department of Homeland Security, which was at about this same time. At the time, I was working a tough alternating graveyard/swing shift job, and I didn't pay too much attention to the letter. If the letter had instructed me to go somewhere for an interview I would have, but somehow updating my application didn't seem vitally important.

So that's the last I heard from the INS, which was soon to be split up into three agencies, and put under the control of the Department of Homeland Security. (Apparently it was part of the DoJ before that).

I'm now trying to find out if there were any other letters sent to me at the time, or if the INS tried to contact me otherwise. It seems they would have sent me something elseófor example, my application eligibility expired in March 2003, or a year after I first tested, but I never received any kind of reminder, or any other notices to update my application.

This is quite a contrast to military and National Guard recruiting, which as we all know can be quite persistent. I have a feeling that if I'd signed up with the National Guard, they would've done more than send me a letter urging me to update my contract online.

Less than a year after 9/11, was that the rallying cry for a more secure America: "All applicants must update their application as soon as possible at...?" To be honest, I wasn't motivated to apply for the immigration inspector position out of patriotic zeal. But the prospect of having the job was something I took seriously. And certainly, as an immigration inspector, I would've been on the front line in the "war on terror."

contact:  jrashjrash@yahoo.com