The Trump administration recently revealed plans to close 23 critical USCIS field offices in 21 different countries at the end of 2019. These offices are an essential lifeline for many people living abroad who need access to the U.S. immigration system. The adverse impact these closings will have on immigrants cannot be understated.
These officers assist immigrants and those living abroad with filling out and submitting an array of complex and often costly immigration applications. In most cases, it can months and sometimes years for these applications to be processed. But with the closing of these offices, some applications may be delayed even longer. These delays can leave military members, U.S. citizens, immigrants, and their spouses and family members stranded abroad and left without assistance for navigating the complex immigration system.
What essential services do the USCIS offices provide?
- Offices facilitate international adoption processes.
- The field offices help military families stationed outside the U.S. apply for U.S. citizenship.
- The offices issue travel documents.
- USCIS field offices reunite U.S. citizens with family members who reside in the U.S. and are in the process of dying. These field offices help citizens obtain expedited paperwork so they can travel to the U.S. with a foreign spouse.
- The offices provide resources, knowledge, and expertise to federal agencies and foreign governments.
- Offices conduct interviews and assist people in applying for refugee and asylum status to the U.S.
What are the arguments for closing the USCIS offices?
Officially, the move is characterized by proponents as a way to reduce the backlog of immigration cases in the U.S. and save taxpayer dollars. Reducing the number of pending asylum applications is also a significant goal for proponents of the USCIS office closures. However, opponents claim that the intended closures are a backhanded way of reducing immigration. 61 members of Congress have vocalized their opposition to the closures.
Is Congress attempting to stop the closures?
In early April of this year, 61 Congress members wrote a letter asking for increased spending to keep the offices open. The arguments against the closures that underpin the letter point to its ill-considered effects, and the closures clandestine attempt to decrease immigration to the U.S.
Attempts to decrease lawful immigration to the U.S. and make it more difficult for hopefuls to obtain immigration status by the current administration is not out of character with their politics. The proposed 2020 budget from the Trump Administration drastically reduces funding to the State Department for humanitarian aid. Also, the budget’s reductions virtually eliminate certain government agencies that assist refugees. The budget also takes regular USCIS application fees and reroutes them to the nation’s deficit, instead of using the fees to fund the agency itself – a sneaky way of starving the agency of much-needed and necessary funding.
These budget cuts and closures of vital USCIS offices will make it more difficult for people to navigate the complex immigration system. Unfortunately, these closures will hurt the people who need access to the USCIS office resources the most – refugees. Get the help you need to immigrate to the U.S. Contact the immigration lawyers of Landerholm Immigration A.P.C. at 510-488-1020 to explore your rights and strategies for obtaining immigration status.