As reality set in for the entire U.S. regarding the furlough of 70% of USCIS's workforce, a counter announcement on August 25, 2020 may have just turned the situation on its head. The potential furlough of over two-thirds of the employees of USCIS has been canceled. This unexpected turn of events promises to leave a huge impact on everyone – immigrants, aspiring citizens, U.S. citizens, and USCIS employees.
USCIS FURLOUGH: CANCELED
Recent developments have revealed that the furlough of 70% of the workforce of USCIS has been canceled. While we all can breathe a sigh of relief, the root causes of the now-canceled potential furlough still remain.
Just how much longer can this situation last? This once again has much in store for everyone concerned. How much potential impact did the furlough have before it was canceled? What are we to expect from its sudden cancellation?
USCIS FURLOUGH: ITS POTENTIAL IMPACTS
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had announced earlier this summer, furloughs of 70% of its workforce. This event would have ground the entire U.S. immigration system to a halt.
This announcement spread like wildfire, leaving no one out of its wake. USCIS employees, aspiring Americans, U.S. citizens, and their immigrant families and employers all bit their nails with anxiety. Rightfully so, because:
- USCIS would be crippled and effectively halt its operations
- Aspiring citizens of the U.S. would be left with the status "aspiring". It would be impossible to become full-fledged citizens.
- Furloughed USCIS employees would be left unemployed, throwing a huge blow to the economy, right in the middle of a global pandemic and Depression-sized unemployment.
- Renewal filings of immigrants would be left unattended to.
Imagine filing for citizenship, doing everything right, paying the $725 filing fee in a rush before it jumps to $1190, and after complying with the law – only to have the agency responsible for granting your citizenship just go dark. Never mind the money. The anxiety, stress, and time wasted are enough to despair about.
The lights were going to go off on August 31. However, on August 25, the announcement that USCIS canceled the furlough of its workers took people by surprise.
USCIS CANCELS FURLOUGH: WHAT TO EXPECT
The furlough of two-thirds of USICS workforce was about to happen until it got canceled earlier today. If it were that simple to just change a decision like this without backlash, then the situation would be over immediately. We stress: This isn’t over!
If the furloughs could be reverted that easily, then why were they announced in the first place? USCIS’s budget shortfall that started the whole problem is still existent. Under a parade of Trump and Miller bootlickers – Kirstjen Nielsen, Virginia’s own Ken Cuccinelli, and Chad Wolf, USCIS was run into the ground. The easiest assumption as to why is simple incompetence.
Deliberate policy changes in the immigration procedure took too high a bite off USCIS’s time, resources, and funds. In the first 3 years, it managed to push the Trump administration’s plans for immigration further into the light. In so doing, it pushed itself down a slippery slope, only hanging on to tiny vines of hope (instilled by Congress).
IT’S NOT OVER YET
With the potential furlough now canceled, the acting head of USCIS, Joseph Edlow concluded that the situation is still dire. According to him, “averting this furlough comes at a severe operational cost..”, “with no guarantee we can avoid future furloughs.”
USCIS is currently on its last legs, just managing to hold on, thanks to the prospect of Congressional action. Congress was ready to attempt funding USCIS on the condition that its policies would be amended. Indeed, it was those very policies that caused the sharp drop in application fees, leading to the budget crisis and furlough announcement. While the pandemic is also a cause, the Trump administration’s policies played a bigger part:
- Application to certain visas became tougher
- The administration proposed charging for asylum applications
- Asylum became restricted at the southern border
- Citizenship applications cost even more
- The government was allowed to deny permanent residency to immigrants on many new and expanded bases
- To mention only a few
Congress aims to thwart these harsh unwelcoming policies so that immigration in the U.S. can flow as it once did. This aim is an opposition to the Trump administration's goals.
Even with the furlough being canceled, and if USCIS funds problem gets resolved, the effects would only last briefly. Considering how far the Trump administration is willing to end U.S. immigration, for just how long will USCIS be able to resist? I'll say it again: This is not over!
It’s abundantly clear that this administration is driven by racist ideology, but it doesn’t always know how to successfully implement it. So, like many other aspects of this administration, it simply creates chaos. Ask any immigration lawyer to describe the last 4 years, and "chaos" is how we'll describe it. But make no mistake: it's malicious (and communicated to the public with a healthy dose of gaslighting, of course).
The rapid-fire changes to policy go all the way from headline-grabbing (family separation, DACA revocation, and) to minutiae of which most will never hear (enhancing appellate rubberstamping, disappearance of grace periods between form upgrades). But they're all purposeful and seek one thing only: the demise of immigration to the United States.
FURLOUGH OR NOT: FILE NOW
For now, you need to stay a step ahead. Never mind the furlough being canceled, the future is still uncertain for USCIS. So, for a whole lot more than simple precautions, you should file your cases now. It's okay to breathe a sigh of relief and rest - but take no chances.
You don’t need to worry about uncertainties – leave the what-ifs to us. At the HMA Law Firm, we rely on experience to resolve our clients’ problems. The combined experience of all our experienced attorneys is here for you.
Where you’re unsure, our attorneys will point you towards the right path. We will lead you through every obstacle blocking your citizenship. We’ll follow through your case from start to finish, no matter how hard it seems.
If there’s a way, we’ll find it. So, help us help you! Reach out to us by jumping on a call, or filling our contact form!