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USCIS Caught In Funding Controversy

In sharp contrast to the cries of wolf of USCIS to Congress complaining of a projected budget shortfall requiring the furloughing of 13,000 employees during a global pandemic when we have record unemployment, enormous backlogs in the adjudication of immigration filings, cancellation of contracts with employment card and green card manufacturers resulting in extreme delays in deserving individuals and family members receiving their cards, we now know that the information provided to Congress to justify these furloughs was inaccurate.

On June 20, the Ombudsman of USCIS stated: “In June 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reduced its capacity to print secure documents, such as Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Cards and Employment Authorization Documents, after it ended a contract with an outside company responsible for printing these cards. According to USCIS, it intended to hire federal employees to replace the contractors; however, its financial situation resulted in a hiring freeze that has impacted the printing of these secure cards.”

Apparently USCIS is not only not running out of money – they are actually projected to run a surplus. (see attached Letter to DHS from Patrick Leahy, Vice Chairman and Jon Tester, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Homeland Security). You have to wonder who is behind this apparent effort to pull the wool over Congress’ and the public’s eyes to not only hurt the families of hard working USCIS employees, but now to devastate their morale and harm the public at large.

The money paid into the system is from users of the immigration system paid in the form of filing fees. These fees are supposed to fund the agency from the user fee account. They are for services owed. DHS should not shift money to other activities and should be held accountable.

Sadly, my understanding is that Chad Wolfe, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, still plans to furlough 13,000 USCIS workers. We are already seeing delays in the production of employment and green cards due to DHS’s termination of contracts with two contractors based on its claims of lack of funding which now appear to be false.

Hopefully Congressional oversight will remedy this sad situation!

*Steven M. Ladik is past President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and represents numerous professional golfers on the LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR. He also serves as the outside Immigration Counsel to the National Football League. He is a Partner at Seltzer Chadwick Soefje & Ladik, PLLC.

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