About 70% of the employees Service, citizenship and US immigration services (USCIS) will be dismissed due to a sharp decline in fees for immigration services, which Finance the Agency. This writes The New York Times.
Possible causes of the financial crisis
Three years of restrictive immigration policies has led to the fact that the applicant was in a difficult position, and potential immigrants began to look for alternative countries for immigration.
Now thousands of Agency workers are faced with uncertainty, partly due to the pandemic COVID-19 and immigration policy of US President Donald trump.
Almost 70% of workers in the USCIS went on vacation, because the amount of the immigration fees that Fund the Agency, fell sharply.
Joseph Edlow, Deputy Director for policy Department, said that approximately 19 000 employees went on vacation. The decrease in revenues from fees charged for immigration and visa applications during the pandemic, has forced the office to go to Congress and ask for $1.2 billion.
But Democrats and Republicans said that the administration has not provided sufficient information on the funding request, and Services citizenship and immigration is preparing to lay off about 400 employees 13 to August 3. The reason for the budget crisis is still under discussion.
Some Agency staff and members of Congress accuse the restrictive policy of the trump.
The senior officials of the administration say that the main reason is pandemic. From March to USCIS, the number of applications decreased by 50%.
Regardless of the cause, the effect is real. Russell Vogt, acting Director of the White house budget, told lawmakers that the 30 September to the end of the fiscal year, revenues in the office can fall by more than 60%. From the USCIS budget of $4.8 billion, 97% comes from such fees.
“It’s like the culmination of three and a half years of policy changes and political developments, one after the other from the point of view of immigration restrictions,” said Jason Marx, Manager of American Federation of government employees on the ground. Marx also recently received preliminary notice.
What can be done
USCIS employees and members of Congress said that the layoffs will not only harm the personal lives of employees, but also will worsen the morale in the Department.
“USCIS operations are largely dependent on income derived from fees from applicants and petitioners, said Chad wolf, acting Secretary of the Department of homeland security. — In many ways USCIS operates more like a traditional business and not as a public institution, fully funded by the appropriations.”
Service representatives of citizenship and immigration reported to Congress that will return funds to the Treasury, adding 10% premium to the submitted applications, despite the fact that pandemic have slowed such treatment.
Both Republicans and Democrats said they need a formal request for emergency assistance, which must be specified how the money will be spent.
In 2019, when officials of the Department of homeland security has asked Congress for $4.6 billion as emergency funds, some Democrats expressed concerns that the money will contribute to immigration enforcement. These suspicions are only intensified after the report of the Department for supervision over government it was found that customs and border protection spent $112 million on food and medicines, ATVs, bikes and boats.
“Congress is ready to work with the administration, but we can’t write a check to ensure that they continued to work this way,” said representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and Chairman of the Committee on homeland security of the house of representatives.
Not only Democrats believe that it would be necessary to report the funds.
“If they really want money, they have to formally ask about it,” said Senator Richard Shelby, Republican from Alabama and Chairman of the Senate Committee on appropriations.
Even Daniel Spooner, President of the American Federation of government employees Council representing more than 14 100 American citizens, agreed that any funding should come with control.
Robert Coleman, a representative of the office of management and budget, said the administration sent Congress a request to receive funds. “We hope that the Congress will accept our offer”, — he said.
A senior official of the internal security service, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the budget office should provide to Congress a formal request for funds.
Both Democrats and Republicans said that they focus on preventing the dismissal of employees and that USCIS will try to include assistance in the aid package because of the coronavirus.
Republican Senator from West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito, controlling spending on national security, said that the addition of aid in the aid package because of the coronavirus may be one of the ways to support the Ministry.
“We want to prevent these layoffs,” she said.
Service citizenship and immigration suspended most of its activities on 18 March, as the States had introduced measures for social distancing, shifting the ceremony of granting citizenship to thousands of immigrants.
But reducing the Finance Department cannot be attributed only to the pandemic, said Juan Ramon, a senior analyst at the immigration policy Center bipartisan policy research organization in Washington.
The administration also strengthened the verification of applications, have banned travel from many countries and has introduced other policies which constrained potential immigrants, foreign students, travelers and temporary workers.
One example is the rule of “public burden” which prohibits immigrants to obtain a green card, if it is believed that they can use public benefits programs such as food stamps or subsidized housing. Advocates of immigration stated that this policy does not allow many people to apply for lawful permanent residence.
Service citizenship and immigration predicted financial problems long before the pandemic, when it was proposed to increase the fee for obtaining a green card.
What will happen to the employees
“Employees are asking if they can run the office in the long term,’ said Ramon. — It’s hard to Wake up every morning and come to the office, not knowing what will entail your job because the orders of the senior level are changing day by day.”
Gillian Morgan joined USCIS in January 2017 to work in the field of treatment of asylum seekers, but resigned after many of her colleagues were directed to the policy, forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico or deport them to Central America.
“I joined the government to become an officer in the guard,” she said. But with her new assignment “was a high probability that we’ll be putting anyone at risk and I’d hate to be part of it.”
Jessica Collins, press Secretary of the Service of citizenship and immigration, referred to the report in 2019, which showed that job satisfaction in the Department was estimated at 75%.
Collins also provided a statement of Aglow, Deputy Director, which underlines heavy near future, which will have to deal with USCIS staff.
“This week thousands of loyal government employees received notices of possible dismissal, which has caused concern over their livelihoods in these difficult times,” said Edlow.