Congress’s Failure To Pass Stimulus Bill Could Result In Immigration Shutdown

Posted on 08/17/20

In May of 2020, our office announced that with current budget shortfalls, and reduced immigration, the United States Citizen and Immigration Service agency would be forced to furlough nearly two-thirds of its workforce without additional funding provided by Congress. Since stimulus talks have failed, USCIS will furlough nearly 13,400 workers on August 30th. Both Democrats and the White House have blamed each other for not agreeing on a Covid-19 stimulus package, which USCIS officials hoped would include the necessary funding to continue accepting applications and keep its workers employed.

Earlier this month, USCIS announced to its workforce that it would be forced to furlough nearly two-thirds of them as negotiations continued in Congress. Officials hoped that the talks would spur the necessary financial backing so that employees would remain employed. According to Forbes, a shutdown of the immigration system would hurt businesses, schools, religious institutions, communities, and medical facilities who rely on our legal immigration system. The failures of Congress to factor in the budget shortfalls of USCIS will have an unexplored toll on the United States economy.

The budgetary problems caused by the coronavirus would leave those eligible for naturalization unable to vote in the upcoming election. Businesses will not be able to accept foreign guest workers’, and our hospitals will lack the diverse knowledge that will help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic head-on. DACA recipients will not be able to renew their work permits, and asylum seekers will have increased waiting times. The shocking truth is that the American economy relies on legal immigration, and without it, our economy will face a magnitude of issues.

According to the final rule issued by USCIS, DHS is adjusting USCIS fees by a weighted average increase of 20% to help recover its operational costs. Current fees would leave the agency underfunded by about $1 billion per year. “USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures and make adjustments based on that analysis,” said Joseph Edlow, USCIS deputy director for policy. “These overdue adjustments in fees are necessary to efficiently and fairly administer our nation’s lawful immigration system, secure the homeland, and protect Americans.”

USCIS is typically self-funded, driving its main source of revenue from application fees related to immigration services. Under the Trump administration, fees have dramatically increased to make up for new hires who investigate fraud in immigration applications. According to a USA Today article, a USCIS agency official was quoted to saying, “In the past few months, USCIS has taken action to avert a fiscal crisis, including limiting spending to salary and mission-critical activities. Without congressional intervention, USCIS will have to take drastic actions to keep the agency solvent.”

Danielle Spooner, who represents the employees who work for USCIS, said, “This isn’t only about the 13,400 American families to be laid off during a pandemic – this is yet another thinly veiled attack on the legal immigration system by Trump administration officials like Stephen Miller.” He added, “By failing to fund this agency, the administration has managed to use the global pandemic to effectively shut down all immigration to the U.S. by the end of the month, hurting thousands of American families and businesses in the process.” Policies under the Trump administration have decreased legal immigration by nearly forty-nine percent, according to the National Foundation for American Policy.

According to Andy J. Semotiuk, of Forbes, The American Immigration Lawyers Association past president, Ron Klasko, summarizes the main concerns of Trump’s immigration policies and how they will continue to impact legal immigration.

  • The complete ban on immigrant visas (some exceptions), J, H, and L visas.
  • Refuge cap of just 18,000
  • Public charge rule that targets the family of immigrants and poor immigrants.
  • Asylum system in disarray due to the Trump administration’s efforts to limit asylum applications.
  • Further attempts to restrict H1-B visas applications.
  • Increased application times and closure of U.S. consulates even as most functionalities in host nations are resumed.
  • Key policy advisors, like Stephen Miller, are anti-immigration.

The United States Customs and Immigration Services agency needs funding before time runs out. The imminent collapse of the United State immigration system will cause lasting impacts for future generations. The inactions of Congress to come to an agreement fails the American public, and our politicians should be held accountable. Just as there are many reasons why an individual or family may want to immigrate or establish permanent residency in the United States, there are also many ways to go about completing the immigration process. Our lawyers have spent countless hours helping individuals and families reach their goals in America. Contact an experienced legal team at The Law Offices of James A. Welcome today. Reach us at (203) 753-7300.