The United States Citizen and Immigration Services has been run into the ground under the Trump Administration. This finally led to a shortfall of $1.3 billion that potentially would have meant that nearly 70% of its workforce would be furloughed starting on August 30. The crisis was averted thanks to substantial increases in the application fees in the upcoming fiscal year, starting in October.
Congress is also committed to funding the agency under the Department of Homeland Security, with the Emergency Stopgap USCIS Stabilization Act. This act enables USCIS to redirect funds earmarked for infrastructure improvement to operating expenses.
Contractors still furloughed
But it is not all good news. Spending reductions currently in effect to maintain operations will impact agency operations and naturalization. An estimated 800 contractors for the National Benefits Center (NBC) in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, will still be furloughed. This company collects information, prepares various applications for the field offices and conducts background checks. Furloughing these workers will likely increase backlogs and processing delays nationally.
Shortfall blamed on Trump Administration
The current administration used hundreds of executive actions to make it harder for legal migrants to live and work in the United States. Many of these actions were fought in Federal Court, but the one way to debilitate the USCIS has been to mismanage it.
“Under the Trump Administration, USCIS has issued a flurry of policies that make its case adjudications more complicated, which reduces the agency’s efficiency and requires more staff to complete fewer cases,” testified Doug Rand, a founder of Boundless Immigration and a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. “There are dozens if not hundreds of such policies.”
Legal help available
Regardless of whether there is a new president in 2021, critics fear that it could take years to undo the damage caused over the last four years. Legal immigrant workers will likely be targeted, so it essential for those facing government or law enforcement harassment to contact an experienced lawyer who handles immigration law. They will have the most up-to-date information on how to protect this vulnerable population best.