USCIS averts furloughing employees
US IMMIGRATION NOTES - Atty. Marco F.G. Tomakin (The Freeman) - September 7, 2020 - 12:00am

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that it has not implemented its planned furloughing of more than 13,000 employees which was supposedly to take effect at the end of August. In recent months, USCIS has made it publicly known that it is suffering financial losses and that it had to dismiss its employees in order to balance its budget. In addition, it has also announced that it will increase its filing fees effective October 2, 2020. Had the furlough been pushed through, it would have placed USCIS in near total shutdown of its operations.

In its announcement, the agency said that it has identified aggressive measures that drastically cut its expenditures. One of the actions taken is to reduce the scope of its contractors. These federal contractors assist USCIS in processing and preparing case files and other supporting activities. Thus, diminishing the number of these contractors will result in more backlogs, increased wait times and longer processing times in applications and petitions. The affected sectors that the USCIS serve should be aware of the operational constraints of the agency that could impact the immigration benefits they are seeking to obtain.

USCIS being a fee-based agency has mainly relied on its own income through payment of filing fees. With the pandemic and the stricter immigration restrictions being imposed by the administration, there has been a continuing decline of applications and petitions being filed which contributed to further loss of revenue. Unless Congress acts quickly and decisively to assist the agency’s financial woes, we can expect further planned furloughs in the years to come.

* * *

The Republican Party has just ended this week its four-day national convention.

Compared to the Democratic National Convention held last week, one can readily observe that there is more production value and style in the Republican side than that of the Democrats. But, of course, elections are not won based on aesthetics. President Trump would have to campaign hard on why he deserves to be re-elected while Biden needs to work harder on why he should replace the incumbent.

This looks to be a very exciting race. At this time, it is too close to call. What I can confidently say is that whoever gets the immigrant vote and the black vote will have the chance to win. The voting immigrants are keeping a close eye on what Mr. Trump can do for them not just in terms of immigration benefits but also in terms of jobs safety and advancement opportunities. The black vote will have to be assured that their concerns of racism, poverty, and equality are being addressed and responded to.

As both parties have already installed their presidential nominees, the race to the White House is officially on!

US CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES
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