WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that processes applications for visas, green cards and other immigration services, is in financial trouble.
Officials with USCIS said they need emergency funding from Congress to prevent thousands of layoffs. They made their request after an announcement that new DACA applications will not be accepted despite the recent Supreme Court ruling.
“Despite our best efforts,” said USCIS Deputy Director Joseph Edlow, “we have been forced to issue furlough notices to nearly 70% of our employees.”
Edlow and Republicans like Colorado Rep. Ken Buck say border closures and immigration restrictions related to the pandemic gutted the USCIS budget.
“The agency has gone out of its way to ease the process for benefit applicants whenever possible,” Buck said.
Democrats say agency mismanagement and the Trump administration’s anti-immigration agenda are to blame for the financial woes of USCIS.
California Rep. Zoe Lofgren there are now “countless new policies that add bureaucratic red tape, increase costs and restrict and reduce immigration channels.”
Democrats took the chance to attack the Trump administration’s decision to refuse new DACA applications from young immigrants who arrived here as children. Each application brings in a fee of $500.
“A lot of these Dreamers are our front-liners in the fight against COVID,” said California Democrat Lou Correa, “and yet they’re in limbo right now.”
“I understand where you’re coming from,” Edlow said, “but I also want to address the fact that our employees are also in limbo.”
Democrats want increased transparency as well as assurances the additional money won’t be transferred to agencies like ICE before they approve a bailout for USCIS.