‘This dramatic drop in revenue has made it impossible for our agency to operate at full capacity…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is preparing to furlough 70% of its workforce due to coronavirus-related budget shortfalls and new immigration restrictions passed by the Trump administration.
USCIS is primarily funded by fees from new immigration and visas applications, and because the pandemic put a hold on all in-person immigration services, the number of immigrants applying for temporary or permanent residency has decreased dramatically, the agency explained.
As a result, about 13,400 of the agency’s 20,000 employees will be furloughed starting Aug. 3, unless Congress provides the agency with additional funding.
“This dramatic drop in revenue has made it impossible for our agency to operate at full capacity,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement, according to The Hill.
USCIS has asked Congress for $1.2 billion in emergency funding, and a USCIS official said the agency continues “to have productive conversations with Congress.”
Another factor in the USCIS’s lay-offs is the Trump administration’s recent immigration restrictions.
Last week, President Trump extended a ban on green cards issued outside the U.S. until the end of the year and added many temporary work visas to the freeze, which means that the USCIS’s job scope has been reduced significantly.
The Trump administration expects the new restrictions to free up more than 500,000 jobs for American workers, even though most of the restrictions are temporary.
The freezes on visas issued abroad are designed to take effect immediately. Other changes, including restrictions on work permits for asylum seekers, will go through a formal rule-making process that takes months.
Overall, the changes are an important win for American workers, said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for restrictions.
“Not all the items on our checklist of needed actions are included in today’s announcement, but the corporate lobbyists who were desperately fighting for exceptions to protect their clients’ access to cheap foreign labor have largely been rebuffed,” Krikorian said in a statement.