US’ immigration system on the brink of collapse
According to a New York Times report, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is seeking financial help from Congress in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
This comes as reports have been surfacing which state that USCIS is on the brink of collapse as a result of ongoing travel and migration restrictions that have been imposed by national and global efforts to stem the spread of the virus.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the US, US visa and Green Card applications have plummeted, leaving the government agency on the edge of becoming insolvent.
As a result, USCIS has reached out to Congress, asking for a cash injection of $1.2 billion. Alongside this, it has also requested that visa and Green Card application fees are increased.
UCSIS relies on funds that it receives for applications for US citizenship and US visas in order to stay afloat. With ongoing restrictions on travel and migration, the majority of would-be applicants are either cancelling or holding off on applying until after lockdown measures have been lifted and global migration regulations and legislations have been clarified.
USCIS has reached out to Congress, asking for a cash injection of $1.2 billion
With this, the UCSIS says that it could run out of funds by the summer, and with applications dropping by an estimated 60% total by the end of the year, this estimate looks to be realistic.
A spokesperson from the agency said:
“Without the $1.2 billion injection from Congress, USCIS will be unable to fund its operations in a matter of months”.
In some efforts to stay afloat, the USCIS has added a 10% surcharge to visa application fees. This, the agency has added on top of increases which have been implemented by the Trump administration.
According to critics, the consistent tightening of the US’ citizenship and visa restrictions have been a contributing factor for the decline in applications. Since Trump’s presidency, he has created and implemented various immigration policies which have worked together to create huge backlogs and red tape. As a result, denial rates have soared.
Critics argue that the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and these policies has meant that fewer people have been applying for a Green Card (US citizenship) or a visa.
“This administration is asking taxpayers to bail out an agency as a result of the very policies it put in place,” Melissa Rodgers, the Director of programs at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center says.
“With extreme vetting, they are making every single application take longer to review, and processing fewer.”
“Word has got out that it’s not worth applying”, Rodgers concludes.
Since Trump’s presidency, he has created and implemented various immigration policies which have worked together to create huge backlongs and red tape…
One of the most controversial of Trump’s policies, the public charge rule, has come under fire for being one of the main causes of this issue. This rule, which was announced by the USCIS last summer, denies US Green Cards to people who are deemed more likely to rely on public benefits, including subsidised housing and food stamps.
This ruling caused controversy at the time that it was announced, and has continued to cause it in its implementation. Critics have suggested that this deters people from applying for US citizenship.
While USCIS has spent time investing money into making the US immigration unnecessarily tougher, they could have been saving money in preparation for economic crashes such as the one which has ensued from coronavirus restrictions.