Earlier this week, big immigration news came in the form of two major updates. One, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration ended the DACA program illegally, as it would have caused serious hardship to thousands without consideration. Two, the USCIS revealed that budget issues and low applicant numbers would require the USCIS to furlough more than 13,000 employees in August.
In today’s blog, our New Jersey immigration attorney will provided an update and response to both these developments.
DACA Has a Lifeline, But Only Congress Can Provide a Permanent Solution
Last week’s Supreme Court decision didn’t rule on the legality of DACA. Instead, the issue at hand was whether the Trump Administration had ended the program with an “arbitrary and capricious” decision, which would violate the Administrative Procedures Act. The APA requires administrative agencies to justify the reasons behind major policy changes, which allows citizens to challenge agency decisions in court.
The Supreme Court ruled that the White House did indeed violate the APA by ending DACA without consideration for the thousands of immigrants whose lives would be affected. However, this ruling has limited benefit because the Court ruled that the administration still possesses the authority to rescind DACA. The only issue is that, thistime, they did it illegally.
The Trump administration will surely attempt to end DACA again, albeit through an executive action or another legal channel. The question now, though, is whether Congress will finally do what immigration advocates (including this firm) has been demanding for years: a path to citizenship for DACA recipients. Any attempt to end DACA now would begin a process that wouldn’t end until after the election.
If Congress had a moment to offer a real, permanent solution for the countless young people who have contributed immeasurably to their communities and their adopted home, it is now.
3 Things the USCIS Must Do Before Demanding $1.2 Billion in Funding
The USCIS has requested more than a billion dollars from Congress to cover the budget shortfall they claim was caused by COVID. Immigration Impact, an online publication from the American Immigration Council, has issued three demands to the USCIS before the agency receives the massive funding it has requested from Congress.
Their demands are:
- Become more fiscally responsible
- Become more efficient
- Become more transparent
The truth is, USCIS was facing serious budget issues well before the pandemic. From 2017 to 2019, the volume of cases it received dropped by 10% while its staffing increased by 25%. Keep in mind that the USCIS funds itself using fees from immigration applications, so lower cases means lower fees. Case numbers have shrunk thanks to policies like the public charge rule and higher-than-usual denials, which have both limited the number of qualifying applicants while discouraging current applicants.
Additionally, the amount of time it takes for a single case to be resolved has increased by nearly 50% in the last few years, thanks in large part to officers being ordered to demand in-person interviews, intense vetting, and increased scrutiny for routine cases. The Government Accountability Office is currently investigating the high rate of denials and delays in the USCIS.
Perhaps the greatest evidence that this budget shortfall has nothing to do with COVID is a proposed fee change it submitted in November. The projected shortfall in that document was the same as it is now: $1.2 billion. Despite lower productivity and a serious drop in applicants, the USCIS also proposed to move $100 million in funding to ICE. It’s suspicious to say the least that the USCIS would request $1.2 billion in funding while giving nearly a tenth of that money away to another agency.
Our firm has reported on how the Trump administration has made efforts to discourage legal immigration. The USCIS budget can be seen as a natural consequence of recent immigration policy. For immigrants and their family members, it has never been more vital to hire an immigration lawyer to handle your case. Our team has the skill, resources, and knowledge to guide your petition through the court system as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Speak with us at (800) 909-8129 to discuss your case in a confidential consultation. Se Habla Español.