Jul 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

70% U.S. immigration officers face furloughs

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services naturalization ceremony

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services naturalization ceremony. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

About 13,400 employees from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will be furloughed by August due to a decline in revenue from immigration and visa application fees that help fund the agency, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: President Trump's administration has implemented many immigration policies that blocked non-Americans from entering the country's borders, separated families and delayed visas, drying up the agency's revenue.

  • Administration officials blame the pandemic for a 50% drop in fees from applications since March.
  • But, applications to USCIS by U.S. citizens seeking to bring immediate relatives to the U.S. have decreased by almost 30% from 2017 to 2019, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

Driving the news: The Trump administration announced last week it will expand entry bans into the U.S. for foreigners on certain temporary work visas — including high-skilled H-1B visas— through the end of the year.

By the numbers: The agency has turned to Congress, asking for emergency funds of $1.2 billion. Of the agency’s $4.8 billion budget, 97% comes from fees.

  • Both Democrats and Republicans said they want to prevent the furloughs and that it was possible to include additional aid into another coronavirus relief package, per NYT.

What to watch: Russell Vought, the acting White House budget director, told lawmakers the agency’s fee receipts could decrease by more than 60% by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

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