Restrictive Immigration Policies Implemented by the Trump Administration

Restrictive immigration policies implemented by the Trump administration have targeted both undocumented and legal immigrants and diminished the pool of applicants applying for USCIS benefits. Revenue for the agency has been further impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 13,400 USCIS employees, or 70% of their agency, face possible furlough on August 30th (extended from the earlier reported date of August 3rd.) The furloughs are expected to last 30-90 days or longer. Since the beginning of the U.S. lockdown in March, there has been an approximate 50% drop in fees from applications as well as delays and backlogs of visa applications. Of the $4.8 billion USCIS budget, 97% is funded by application fees. In fiscal year 2018, USCIS produced $152 million less in fee revenue, and an additional $13 million less in fiscal year 2019. Russell T. Vought, the acting White House budget director, predicts a 60% fall of fee receipts by the end of September, the end of the 2020 fiscal year. Furloughs will negatively impact the lives of USCIS employees, worsen the morale of the agency, and put the future of the American legal immigration system in peril. Due to the decline in revenue funded by fees from immigration and visa applications, USCIS has requested an emergency infusion by Congress of $1.2 billion to continue the employment of its 19,000 employees. If granted the funds, the USCIS would add a 10% surcharge to applications filed with the agency to repay the Treasury Department. Both Democrats and Republicans demanded more information about USCIS’s proposed spending of the requested funds, as well as a formal request for such funds. Senate Republicans authorized a $1.2 billion loan authority for USCIS in their latest coronavirus relief proposal. Congressional officials have expressed a wish to protect the employees that could be subject to furlough and to find a funding solution.

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Sheila Starkey Hahn

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Sheila Starkey Hahn has devoted her entire legal career to the practice of immigration law. With offices in up-state New York, Memphis and Washington DC, Ms. Starkey Hahn focuses her practice on employment-based immigration. She assists established c…

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