Layoffs loom for thousands of U.S. Immigration Officers

Updated: Jul 4, 2020

The New York Times is reporting that thousands of USCIS Immigration Officers could face layoffs or furloughs as early as August 3, 2020 due to the fact that immigration processing fees that fund the agency, have plummeted.

According to the report, three years of restrictive and sometimes harsh policies have left families separated, applicants for visas stranded and would be immigrants looking for alternative destinations.

Immigration Officers leading an oath during a drive in citizenship ceremony in California last month.

Joseph Edlow, the deputy director of the agency, which screens people seeking immigration relief and protection, has told.his approximately 19,000 employees that the decline in revenue from fees attached to immigration and visa applications during the pandemic, has forced the agency to turn to Congress for an emergency infusion of $1.2 Billion.

But Congress said the administration had yet to provide sufficient information about the funding request, and USCIS is preparing to furlough nearly 13,000 employees by August.

The Times reports that in more than a dozen interviews they conducted with immigration officers, the furloughs would not just harm the personal lives of the employees and worsen morale in the agency, it would also clog the legal immigration system.

The agency "operations rely heavily on the revenue raised from fees from applicants and petitioners," Chad Wolf, the acting Secretary of DHS said in a letter to Congress supporting the emergency funding request. "In many ways, the agency operates more like a traditional business rather than a government agency funded by appropriations.

As a result of these looming layoffs or furloughs, immigrants are going to face a much longer wait for their petitions to be processed, causing an already back logged system to delay even further. Let's hope Congress grants the emergency funding so that those seeking immigration relief or protection would not have to wait longer than necessary.

This story is culled from The New York Times.