USCIS: How the Immigration Agency Has Changed Since Trump

By August 19, 2020Immigration Law Blog

The USCIS is the largest government agency for immigration in the United States. Unfortunately, it may not stay that way if things don’t take a turn soon. Today we are going to take a look at the current state of the USCIS and how it came to be the way it is today.

USCIS: How the Immigration Agency Has Changed Since Trump

We’ve talked before about the impact that President Trump’s administration has had on the United States immigration system. Today we’re going to look specifically at the effect that this administration has had on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Weaponizing the USCIS

A recent article from the Washington Post highlighted some of the bigger changes that have taken place recently and had a significant impact on the USCIS. Perhaps the biggest claim is that the current administration is weaponizing the USCIS to expand the anti-immigration influence. Is there evidence to back this up? Let’s take a look…

Turning Away Immigrant Applicants For Trivial Issues

One of the issues mentioned in the Post article is the fact that the USCIS is turning away immigrants for making trivial mistakes on their application forms. How trivial are those mistakes? Some have been turned away for simply leaving a field blank rather than writing “N/A” in the space provided!

Delaying Naturalization Processes and Denying Green Cards

The current administration has also needlessly delayed the naturalization process for tens of thousands of immigrants who were on the verge of their citizenship finalization and denied green cards to immigrants who have failed to pass a “wealth” test.

What Does It Mean?

These changes and suggested changes by the administration have led to a reluctance on the part of immigrants to file applications with the USCIS. For three years of Trump’s administration immigrants avoided the immigration system as much as possible for fear of persecution. Now that the fourth year has been plagued by the Coronavirus pandemic and staffing is low, what applications are coming in are piling up and not being processed.

How Is This Killing the USCIS?

As the main processing center for immigration, the USCIS is funded by the application processing fees it charges. Just how much funding comes from those application fees that are in short supply? An incredible 97%! As immigration applications have dropped over the past few years, that funding has fallen dramatically and the USCIS is facing bankruptcy.

Managing Bankruptcy in the USCIS

Survival of the USCIS is dependent on funding and the lack of funding has set the agency on a spiral downward. In an effort to save itself, the office has requested a $1.2 billion bailout from Congress to cover their huge deficit. If the requested bailout is not granted, the USCIS has stated that two-thirds of their 20,000 employees will be furloughed by the end of August. That’s more than 13,000 more jobless in the U.S. and a devastating implication for the immigration agency itself. All of this comes after a huge increase in USCIS fees that become effective in October – an increase of 80%! An increase that also enacts a fee for asylum-seeking immigrants for the first time.

What Now?

What comes next remains to be seen. What we do know, however, is that over the current administration’s term, the USCIS is suffering more than ever before. Fewer immigrants are filing applications, fewer fees are being paid, and the USCIS is failing fast.

Whether the USCIS can be saved by a change in administration is another thing that remains to be seen. There is a possibility that the entire system – a system that has been effective albeit delayed – over various presidencies, has reached a point of no return. Where does that leave immigrants and the immigration system? There is no telling. We can only remain hopeful that the USCIS is able to keep its head above water until change comes.

So, What Does It Mean For You As An Immigrant in the United States?

The longterm implication of the current state of the USCIS for immigrants in the United States is another unknown. At the present moment, however, implications include an 80% increase in immigration fees, the turning away of many immigrants seeking to reside in the United States, and a general fear of the United States immigration system. We can only hope that things improve over the coming months.

Do You Have Questions About the USCIS?

Do you have any questions about the USCIS or your current immigration status? If so, we recommend picking up the phone and calling us here at Nelson Immigration today at 626-683-3451!